Dunedin pair among four new cases

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed a Dunedin man who has recently been in Germany has tested positive.

It was confirmed this evening that the man's son had also tested positive, while earlier a Wellington father (in his 70s) and son (in his 30s) were also confirmed as new cases. It meant there were now 12 confirmed cases in the country.

The Dunedin man in his 40s began to show symptoms five days after returning to the city. He was experiencing flu-like symptoms and was in self-isolation.

 

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Two other family members with symptoms were also tested and one, his son  - a pupil at Logan Park High School - was confirmed positive this evening. The school will now close for at least 48 hours as a consequence.

Logan Park High School will close for at least 48 hours following the positive result. Photo: ODT...
Logan Park High School will close for at least 48 hours following the positive result. Photo: ODT files

Because the man only showed symptoms five days after arriving in New Zealand those on flights with him were not seen as being at risk, Dr Bloomfield said.

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Susan Jack said Logan Park would close for at least 48 hours while close contacts were traced and put in self-isolation and casual contacts given advice about what to do if they are unwell.

It would be working with the school and family to identify any close contacts of the pupil over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Meanwhile, University of Otago vice chancellor Harlene Hayne earlier today said she believed case of the father was being handled in a "text-book manner.''

"I have every confidence that the health authorities are expertly managing the situation and we will be as safe as possible.''

Logan Park is close by the student quarter and university campus, but the possible Covid-19 case nearby would not interrupt classes, Prof Hayne said.

"Our University is operating as normal, and I wanted to give you as much reassurance as possible that the University is working hard to keep staff and students safe and healthy while continuing to deliver the best education possible under unprecedented conditions.''

Wellington cases

The Wellington cases came to New Zealand from Los Angeles on Saturday March 14.

The younger man was unwell on the flight, the father became unwell about a day later.

"We are expecting more cases," Bloomfield said.

There had been a big increase in cases from overseas and that meant more would be expected to return with symptoms.

Bloomfield said cost was no barrier to coronavirus testing in this country, but said the right people had to be tested. There were round 500 tests under way today.

The Healthline phone service had fielded more than 24,000 calls yesterday - seven times the usual level.

He moved to reassure people that staff were doing their best to answer all calls.

There was now an online process available for those for registering for self-isolation.

Another 50 nurses have been brought in, as have non-clinician staff to help with all of the Healthline calls.

Asked if he was satisfied with the Government's economic package today providing $500 million for health spending, Bloomfield said he was "very pleased" with the amount.

The pair had been picked up from the airport, then spent the weekend at home. They called ahead before going to the doctor, which was the correct thing to do, Bloomfield said.

Tourist refuses to self-isolate, faces deportation

Bloomfield confirmed that a traveller who arrived in Christchurch yesterday was unwilling to commit to self-isolating and intended to continue with her travels.

The intention is now to deport her.

He said he could understand why someone had planned a trip for a long time and then arrived at the 11th hour to find they can't travel, but said NZ authorities needed to protect people.

If someone was aware of a person who was not going to self-isolate they were encouraged to tell someone at the airport or contact Healthline or police if they were outside of the airport.

Bloomfield said there had been a big increase in cases from overseas and that meant more would be expected to return with symptoms.

Bloomfield said cost was no barrier to coronavirus testing in this country, but said the right people had to be tested. There were round 500 tests under way today.

The Healthline phone service had fielded more than 24,000 calls yesterday - seven times the usual level.

He moved to reassure people that staff were doing their best to answer all calls.

There was now an online process available for those for registering for self-isolation.

Another 50 nurses have been brought in, as have non-clinician staff to help with all of the Healthline calls.

Asked if he was satisfied with the Government's economic package today providing $500 for health spending, Bloomfield said he was "very pleased" with the amount.

Earlier today the Government unveiled a $12.1 billion support package for the New Zealand economy, with almost half of the cash to be spent on a wage subsidy package for all coronavirus-impacted businesses.

Those full-time workers eligible for the package will receive $585 per week from the Government, paid in a lump sum package of just over $7000 covering a 12-week period.

The Government is also raising benefits by $25 a week, starting April 1, and doubling the Winter Energy Payment.

This is just the first tranche of the Government spending response – the rest will be unveiled during May's "recovery" Budget.

Today's package comes as part of "the most significant peace-time economic plan in modern New Zealand history".

The $12.1 billion spending package accounts for roughly 4 per cent of New Zealand's GDP and is comparatively bigger than the relief packages so far announced by Australia, the UK and the US.

"The Government is pulling out all the stops to protect the health of New Zealanders and the health of our economy," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

The big-ticket items of the package include $5.1 billion for the wage subsidy package, $2.8b for benefit increases and the bolstered Winter Energy Payment and a further $2.8b for tax changes to free up cash flow.

That's a total of $8.7 billion for businesses and jobs.

The package also contains an initial $500 million boost in health spending and an initial $600 million to support the aviation sector.

A Covid-19 sick leave scheme has also been created and will be available for eight weeks at a cost of $126.5 million.

Some 27,000 workers every two weeks are expected to take advantage of this scheme.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the package is one of the largest in the world on a per capita basis.

It is more than the total sum of new spending in all three of the last Budgets put together.

 

Comments

Oh joy. Arrives from Europe and doesn't self isolate. Thanks for that.

From the article: "The Dunedin man in his 40s began to show symptoms five days after returning to the city. He was experiencing flu-like symptoms and was in self-isolation."

Why if showing symptoms, self isolating, been tested would you send your son who lives in the same house, off to school?

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