3 Mar 2020

Covid-19: Health officials expect low chance of NZ outbreak

From Checkpoint, 5:08 pm on 3 March 2020

Thirty-one people in New Zealand are currently awaiting test results for the Covid-19 coronavirus. But tests on the two people who were feared to be carrying the virus today came back negative.

The Ministry of Health's Healthline on Monday had more calls than it has ever had with over 1,600 people phoning, mainly about the coronavirus.

There have been 155 tests for the virus so far, with only one returning a positive result for covid-19. That person remains in Auckland Hospital, where there condition continues to improve.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said authorities still believe the chances of an outbreak in the wider community in New Zealand is low.

New Zealand health officials are continuing to liaise with their counterparts in Australia and elsewhere in the world, with the Prime Minister's chief science advisor Juliet Gerrard taking part in a teleconference organised by the White House with global health leaders.

At the border, the government continues to ramp-up restrictions on people travelling from the worst-hit countries. Dr Bloomfield said the fact they've managed to keep coronavirus out of the country for so long gives New Zealand a real advantage in containing its spread, because it's allowed health workers to watch the way the virus behaves and the impact of various control measures.

Globally, more than 3000 people have died from the coronavirus and about 88,000 have been infected.