AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — A suspicious package that was sent to a New Zealand newspaper this week and contained a threatening note that claimed a vial of Ebola was inside has been determined to be a hoax, police said on Thursday, although testing continues on other packages sent to parliament and the U.S. embassy.
The first incident happened at around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday when a suspicious package was delivered to the New Zealand Herald in Auckland, the country's largest city. The package contained a small plastic bottle with a liquid inside and was accompanied by documents in which a self-described 'jihadist group' claims that it contains a vial of Ebola.
Police secured the package and transferred it to the Environmental Science and Research (ESR) institute, where it was swabbed for DNA and checked for fingerprints. The bottle was then sent for testing at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) in Melbourne, where it was determined that the liquid did not contain Ebola.
"A document in the package suggested the virus was contained in the bottle. That assertion has clearly been dispelled," police spokesperson Noreen Hegarty said. "The Police investigation into the origins of the package and the intent of its contents is ongoing. The bottle is an exhibit in that investigation and is being returned to the ESR."
Police are continuing their investigation into a second package that was delivered at New Zealand's Parliament in the capital Wellington at 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, also containing a small bottle and references to Ebola. A third package was delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Wellington on Wednesday.