17 Mar 2020

Covid-19: Three new cases confirmed in NZ, total now 11

From Checkpoint, 5:27 pm on 17 March 2020

There are three new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11, along with two probable cases.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says the infected people have all recently returned from overseas.

Two of the cases are in Wellington - a father in his 70s and his son in his 30s, who have recently returned from the United States and are now in self-isolation.

Ashley Bloomfield says close contacts of the two men are being - or have already been - contacted.

The third case is a Dunedin man in his 40s, who has recently returned from Germany. The positive test result came through this morning - he started showing symptoms five days after his return.

He is in self-isolation with two family members who also have symptoms. They are also being tested - one of them is a student at Logan Park High School.

Ashley Bloomfield says New Zealand can expect more sporadic cases of Covid-19 - especially as the number of cases internationally continues to rise. But he stressed that all cases to date have been associated with overseas travel.

Dr Bloomfield says both Healthline and the government call centre were under extreme pressure on Monday - with seven times the usual number of calls.

He acknowledges that some people had to wait a long time for help, or their calls were dropped. And says there is now an online process for registering for self-isolation.

Phone capacity is being increased, more nurses and trained staff are being brought in.