Live: 50 new Covid-19 cases, 5 cases in school

A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand and it has been announced there are 50 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19, including five in a school.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were 47 confirmed cases and three probable cases bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases to 205.

There were now five community cases related to Auckland's Marist College.

The cases connected with the school and the cases connected with the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown, were both being treated as "clusters", Dr  Bloomfield said.

Staff and students from that college should not have contact with other people, Bloomfield said, and they should also keep their distance from people in their own households.

"We do have some community transmission in New Zealand."

Four were confirmed and number of other cases were being treated a potentially community transmission.

Six people are in hospital in a stable condition, one in Rotorua, one in Waikato and three in Wellington. Three patients were discharged from hospitals yesterday.

There were 1400 tests processed yesterday, bringing the total number of tests so far to 9780.

Dr Bloomfield said there would continue to be a rise in the number of cases for 10 days, and they would only "turn around" if people followed lockdown rules.

"That turn around will happen if all New Zealanders do what is being asked of them."

An announcement is also expected about whether non-food home deliveries will be allowed.

State of emergency declared today

Sarah Stuart-Black, director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, said a state of national emergency would be declared in Parliament today.

At 12.21pm, the state was declared by the Minister for Civil Defence Peeni Henare.

This provided access to special powers to combat Covid-19 - including powers of requisition and closing roads, and stopping people from doing certain activities.

Stuart-Black said these powers sat alongside other powers to ensure essential services could stay up and running.

"Each of you has a role in helping to save a life," she said.

A mobile alert will be sent between 6pm and 7pm tonight to advise New Zealanders about the state of emergency.

Stuart-Black would be empowered by the state of emergency powers, but she said it would be great if she didn't have to use them.

The legislation allowed the state of emergency to remain in place for seven days, but this can be extended.

"We're really hoping people have heard the messages and understand how horrendous this could get."

Lockdown begins tonight

New Zealand will move to alert level 4 at midnight tonight and will be in nationwide lockdown for at least four weeks - a move Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says is necessary to prevent up to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

The taskforce's press conference, scheduled for 1pm, includes:

• Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management – update on Covid-19 national response

• Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health – health update

• Peter Elms, Immigration NZ national manager – border issues update

• Paul Stocks, Deputy Chief Executive MBIE – essential services update

Yesterday the number of confirmed and probable cases rose to 155, including 12 who had recovered and six who were in hospital but have not needed ICU treatment.

Of the 155 total there had been 15 Covid-19 cases in the South, including two new confirmed Dunedin cases yesterday and one probable Dunedin case.

Panic buying continued across the South; the deadline for domestic travel was extended as Kiwis tried to rush home; and a six-month mortgage holiday was announced for those whose incomes are affected by New Zealand’s response to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The nationwide lockdown to restrict transmission of the virus that has killed more than 16,000 people around the world begins today at 11.59pm.

Acting district commander Inspector Darryl Sweeney said police would increase their visibility in the community for the month-long lockdown to provide reassurance but were also working with the owners of businesses to provided added security.

Insp Sweeney said police would take action if required to ensure people behaved responsibly, including seeing people did not travel unless it was essential to do so, but he said he hoped enforcement action would not be necessary.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government was acting quickly to get new financial schemes in place to soften the blow on New Zealanders and businesses as the Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank announced a further $6.25billion in financial support yesterday.

"These actions between the Government, banks and the Reserve Bank show how we are all uniting against Covid-19. We will get through this if we all continue to work together," he said.

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