58 new coronavirus cases, 74 recovered

There are 58 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says.

There are 48 confirmed cases and 10 probable cases, bringing the total number of cases in New Zealand to 647 since the start of the pandemic. Seventy-four people have recovered.

The Southern District Health Board area has overtaken Auckland as the DHB area with the most Covid-19 infections with 15 new cases announced today.

The rise brings the total in the SDHB area, which includes Otago and Southland, up to 98, one ahead of Auckland which has 97 cases and a much larger population.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was giving an update to media this afternoon, saying 14 people are in hospital with Covid-19 - two in intensive care in a stable condition.

None of the 14 people in hospital are in the Otago or Southland regions, the Ministry of Health has said.

"Whilst this is a drop in the number over the last day or two, I have no sense that this is a drop overall and our expectation is that the number of cases will continue to increase," Dr Bloomfield said.

He said the lower number could be partly attributed to fewer couriers working on Sunday, which could have held up test results.

Health authorities were still "seeing that strong link in positive cases to overseas travel".

About 1 to 2% of cases were community transmission. He said authorities had some idea of where the community spread was, but they were working to build a picture.

Bloomfield said he could not be certain Covid-19 was not already transmitting through hospitals - but the first death of a person in New Zealand with the virus yesterday had triggered changes in the way respiratory illnesses are treated.

The person who died was a West Coast woman in her 70s who had other underlying illness, and was being treated for influenza before she was tested for Covid-19.

Dr Bloomfield said the modelling reports painted a sobering picture of what the impact of Covid-19 in Aotearoa would be if a strict approach was not taken.

"Without the actions currently being taken, the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 would exact a high price on New Zealand in terms of its impact on our healthcare system, on our healthcare workers, and of course, in a large number of deaths."


New Zealand needed to take this virus seriously, he said, and part of taking it seriously was getting the best possible outcome from the level four measures put in place.

He also noted that there had been a lot of ongoing interest in personal protective equipment and a large number of masks would be distributed to frontline healthcare workers.

"It's very important that we keep our frontline health workers safe and there has been very clear advice about where healthcare workers need to wear PPE in different contexts. However, I'm also conscious that our frontline health workers not only need to be safe, they need to feel safe.

"I know that many of our frontline healthcare workers are concerned about not having access to masks when they feel they need them to feel safe."


Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black has also spoken after the State of National Emergency, giving extra powers to the state, was extended this afternoon for another seven days.

She said a Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit had been formed, and regional Civil Defence groups would be operating local hotlines around the country.

"I'd like to thank everyone for all you're doing to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The small things we do as individuals make a real difference.

"Please keep being kind, we're all in this together. People who have or suspect they have Covid-19 need to be treated with compassion and support. No one catches this virus on purpose."

She also pointed out that wet wipes were a major problem for councils' sewers and wastewater treatment plants.

"As people, rightly, become more vigilant about hygiene, the use of wet wipes has increased markedly. Unfortunately, disposing of wet wipes down the toilet leads to extra blockages in the sewer network - and this includes flushable wet wipes.

"The bottom line is, if you'll beg my forgiveness, please always put wet wipes in the rubbish and not in the toilet."


Latest cases from Ministry of Health - March 30 and 31

Confirmed COVID-19 cases, as at 9 am 31 March
Date of reportSexAge groupDHBInternational travelLast country before returnFlight numberFlight departure dateArrival date
31/03/2020Female20 to 29Southern     
31/03/2020Male50 to 59Southern     
31/03/2020Male70+     Southern     
31/03/2020Female60 to 69Southern     
31/03/2020Female20 to 29Southern     
31/03/2020Female30 to 39Southern     
31/03/2020Female10 to 14WaitemataNo    
30/03/2020Male20 to 29AucklandYesUnited States of America  23/03/2020
30/03/2020Male15 to 19AucklandYesUnited KingdomEK44823/03/202024/03/2020
30/03/2020Female40 to 49AucklandNo    
30/03/2020Male40 to 49AucklandYes   25/03/2020
30/03/2020Male40 to 49Bay of PlentyYesUnited States of America  24/03/2020
30/03/2020Female40 to 49Bay of Plenty     
30/03/2020Male40 to 49Bay of Plenty     
30/03/2020Female20 to 29Counties Manukau     
30/03/2020Female50 to 59Counties ManukauNo    
30/03/2020Female20 to 29Counties ManukauUnknown    
30/03/2020Male40 to 49Counties ManukauYesUnited States of America  19/03/2020
30/03/2020 20 to 29Counties ManukauNo    
30/03/2020Male30 to 39Hawke's Bay     
30/03/2020Female70+     Hawke's Bay     
30/03/2020Male70+     Hawke's Bay     
30/03/2020Female30 to 39LakesNo    
30/03/2020Male30 to 39LakesNo    
30/03/2020Female20 to 29Nelson MarlboroughYesAustraliaNZ885719/03/202019/03/2020
30/03/2020Female15 to 19SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Female60 to 69SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Male20 to 29SouthernYesUnited Arab Emirates  21/03/2020
30/03/2020Female60 to 69SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Female15 to 19SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Female20 to 29SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Male20 to 29SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Male60 to 69Southern     
30/03/2020Male10 to 14SouthernNo    
30/03/2020Female20 to 29TaranakiYesUnited Kingdom  21/03/2020
30/03/2020Male30 to 39Waikato     
30/03/2020Female40 to 49Waikato     
30/03/2020Female20 to 29WaitemataYes LA801 20/03/2020
30/03/2020Female70+     WaitemataYesEngland  24/03/2020
30/03/2020Male20 to 29WaitemataUnknown    
30/03/2020Female40 to 49Waitemata     
30/03/2020Female20 to 29WaitemataUnknown



Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter