Covid-19: PM praises efforts, some 'idiots' still out there

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand seems to have avoided the exponential growth in Covid-19 cases that has hit other countries, but is urging people not to risk the success so far and to continue to abide by lockdown rules.

The number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand has passed the 1000 mark and there are still a few "idiots" out there not sticking to the rules, she said.

Ardern made the comments at a media briefing with Director-General of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Sunday afternoon.

"Be proud of your efforts that you have all made. It is making a difference. Now is the time though to remain focused, to not let up," she said.

Dr Bloomfield said there are 89 new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand: 48 confirmed cases and 41 probable cases, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1039. However, 156 people have recovered.

There are nine new confirmed or probable cases in the Southern DHB region, bringing the total to 160. 

There are now 12 significant clusters. Three new cases linked to a wedding in Bluff  last month have been identified in the past day, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases to 58.

The clusters with the highest number of associated cases remains the same as Saturday:  the wedding in Bluff, the event in Matamata (56) and the Marist College cluster in Auckland (66).

A significant new cluster involving 10 people has been identified in Christchurch.

Ardern said she didn't want to draw "too many conclusions" but the number of cases in New Zealand had not grown exponentially like in other countries. "That is a good thing."

However, no decisions had been made about extending the lockdown.

"We're not at a point yet where we can see the full impacts of alert level 4," she said, adding that ongoing compliance made it more likely that the lockdown would not be extended.

Ardern said contact tracing capacity would need to be able to happen for some months to come. She said new cases made it hard to see success, but the lockdown measures had made an impact.

Bloomfield said over the next week he would signal mental health and well-being initiatives supporting people self-isolating, part of a $15 million package that's been previously announced.

Jacinda Ardern says lockdown measures have made an impact in the fight against Covid-19. Photo:...
Jacinda Ardern says lockdown measures have made an impact in the fight against Covid-19. Photo: ODT files


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern thanked the country on Sunday afternoon for their efforts during the lockdown, which began at 11.59pm on March 25.

Efforts to go after those breaking rules would ensure the success of the lockdown and move the country out of it as soon as possible, she said.

Over Friday and Saturday, Ardern said police had carried out 795 prevention patrols and 990 reassurance checks at essential services.

However, she said there were "still some people I would charitably describe as idiots", she said, citing a man in Christchurch who filmed himself coughing on people at the weekend.

He has been charged and will appear in court on Monday.


Ardern also said she was "very disappointed" in Health Minister David Clark for driving to go mountain biking this week but still had confidence in him and that he understood her expectations.

She did not think he was refusing interviews, adding that Clark continued to be in lockdown in Dunedin. "He continues to do his job."

There was nothing to read into Clark not fronting on television's Q+A this morning, as many other Ministers were consistently available to answer questions, she said.

A new health notice has been issued, leaving no doubt about what Kiwis can and cannot do during the four-week lockdown.

Fifteen people are in hospital, including three in ICU; one in Wellington and two in Auckland, with two reportedly in a critical condition.

The total number of lab tests so far is 36,209, 3093 of which were processed on Saturday.

Bloomfield said 45% of cases have a clear international travel link, 36% were contacts of known cases, and 1%  were community transmission. Some 18% are still being investigated.

The breakdown of cases by ethnicity is 74% European, 8.3% Asian, 7.6% Maori an 3.3% Pacific.

Jacinda Ardern said a strategy putting the economy ahead of health was wrong, and the loss of life would also lead to economic pain. She said countries who stemmed the flu epidemic of 1918 did better economically in the long run.

She said new cases made it hard to see success, but the lockdown measures had made an impact.

Modelling provided by Rodney Jones, principal of Wigram Capital Advisors, had predicted about 4000 cases by this weekend at the start of the lockdown.

The fact that we were only now at about 1000 was a reason for optimism, Ardern said.

"We have made a good start and the decisions we've made to date have made a difference."

She also pointed to Google data that showed "impressively high levels of compliance" by New Zealanders in lockdown.

Ardern  said there will be long term effects on the economy, despite the $5 billion already paid out on wage subsidies.

This week the Government would continue to focus on stopping the spread of the virus to move out of the lockdown as soon as possible, she said.

That included scaling up contact tracing and getting a better gauge on community transmission.

Ardern said she would also ask for the kind of evidence needed before a move out of lockdown can be ascertained.

- NZ Herald and ODT Online 


Watching from Australia, I am so envious of New Zealand for having such open, decisive, humane, intelligent and effective leadership. The only times Australia's leaders do anything good is when they copy what Jacinda did a few days earlier.

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