Live: Covid-19 update, new cases to be announced

New Zealand's director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is set to update the nation at 1pm on the Government's response to Covid-19 and reveal the number of new cases.

It comes as yesterday there were nine new cases of Covid-19 in the South as the New Zealand total passed the 1000 mark.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a cautiously optimistic view of the results at a media briefing, saying the country’s cases appear to have stabilised.

But she sharply criticised those "idiots" still breaching lockdown rules.

A further 89 confirmed and probable cases took New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1039.

The Southern District Health Board remains the area with the most cases, at 160.

Of the nine new southern cases, four were in the Queenstown Lakes area, two were in Southland, two were in Invercargill, and one was in Clutha.

There were 58 cases linked to the Bluff wedding cluster, and 32 to the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown.

Hope that cases will drop in next few days

Dr Bloomfield told Mike Hosking this morning New Zealand had seen an "encouraging" flattening of growth in cases.

That's partly because New Zealand had moved to alert level 4 early, rather than moving slowly toward a lockdown like other countries.

Bloomfield said in the last three-four days - slightly earlier than expected - the flattening off had been seen. In the next few days the hope was there would be a drop in cases.

Officials were looking for that drop this week but it was too early to call whether it would happen.

The Ministry of Health was working with DHBs to make sure that when NZ moved back to alert level 3, important appointments and elective surgery would be carried out.

Hospitals are running at 50-60 per cent capacity - meaning there are about 1000 beds empty. ICU staff are being trained and hospitals getting ready while there are fewer people in hospital.

Source: NZ Herald
Source: NZ Herald
Three early indicators

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Hosking there were three factors - or early indicators - the Cabinet would be looking at as it started considering whether it could be lifted in 16 days: The rate of cases; the level of community transmission, and the results of extra testing at regional level to give a more localised view.

The 89 new cases in New Zealand yesterday was consistent with the number of new daily cases since the lockdown came into force, and the total of 1039 confirmed or probable cases was 3000 fewer than the predicted number for yesterday, which was provided to the Government on the eve of the lockdown.

But expert epidemiologists say there needs to be more testing data across all regions, socio-economic groups and ethnicities before the lockdown can confidently be lifted.

Ardern defended the level of Covid testing in New Zealand, saying the positive rate for tests was under 3% - on a par with South Korea. A city like New York, where Covid was running out of control, was at 50% positive testing.

She acknowledged distribution of equipment - including PPE equipment, swabs and tests - had needed to improve, but the country, by and large, had good supply.

"Same issue with flu vaccine, in some places people have run out - we have half a million vaccines... it's about moving them around the country. That means knowing how many every GP and pharmacy have.

"We need to move to war-time footing. I expect these things to be logistically much tighter.

NZ Herald and ODT

 

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