24 Mar 2020

Four cases of community transmission of Covid-19 in NZ

2:41 pm on 24 March 2020

There have been four cases of community transmission in New Zealand, as the Health Ministry reveals there has now been 155 confirmed and probable cases in this country.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

At a media conference held early this afternoon, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there were 40 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We'll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they're responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.

Watch the media conference here:

The Ministry of Health had details for one-third of the 40 new cases.

There have now been four cases of community transmission - three in Auckland, one in Wairarapa. Two of the four were among the 40 new cases revealed today.

He said there were now 155 confirmed and probable cases, and 12 people have now recovered from the virus.

"There are 12 cases that we can confirm are recovered. We will be updating this number on a daily basis."

Six people are now in hospital, and all are in a stable condition. No cases have been taken to ICU. Six people who attended the Hereford Conference in Queenstown have been confirmed with the coronavirus.

There have now been more than 8300 completed tests in New Zealand.

The three probable cases are people who have returned a negative result from testing, but they are clinically treated as probable because of their connection with other cases.

Dr Bloomfield said recent travel back from overseas was still the main driver of Covid-19 cases in this country.

There is one confirmed case of Covid-19 in a rest home, Dr Bloomfield says he has no knowledge of any member of the public health service being infected.

Dr Bloomfield said the forthcoming lockout was better to do sooner, rather than later.

"And doing so gives New Zealand the best chance of breaking the chain of community transmission. This will require all our efforts and I strongly urge all New Zealanders to play their part."

The country enters level 4 alert status from 11.59pm on Wednesday. It will be a full lockdown, for a minimum of four weeks.

At the same media conference this afternoon, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said essential workers with children who needed caregivers could select a buddy to join their self-isolated group, who will then act as the caregiver.

That caregiver cannot have other contacts, other than their own household. She said the smaller, the group the better.

The Ministry of Education is sourcing devices for low decile areas where people don't have access to a computer or tablet, Holsted said.

MBIE spokesperson Paul Stocks said an 0800 number would be established for businesses confused about 'essential services'.

But he said if you are not sure if you are an essential business, you are probably not.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

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