7 Apr 2020

Covid-19: What happened on 7 April

7:01 pm on 7 April 2020

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.

On a day when the number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand decreased for the first time, Health Minister David Clark offered to resign after revealing another lockdown breach and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent the night in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

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David Clark offered his resignation, Jacinda Ardern did not accept it but demoted him, 54 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 were reported today and Boris Johnson is in intensive care. Photo: RNZ / Getty Pool / AFP

This morning, Clark said he drove his family 20km from his house in Dunedin to Doctor's Point Beach for a walk during the first weekend of the lockdown in breach of the rules.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said under normal conditions she would sack him. However, she said to avoid disruption she would be demoting Clark instead and strip him of his role as Associate Finance Minister and demote him to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings.

Clark told Morning Report he acknowledged that his ministerial judgement was now in question and that he needed to rebuild trust with the public, who were making huge sacrifices during the lockdown.

"At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I've let the team down. I've been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me," Clark said.

Drop in number of current Covid-19 cases

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield reported 54 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, bringing the total number of cases to 1160. Twelve people are in hospital and four are in intensive care, including one person who is in a critical condition.

Today's new figure is down from the 67 new cases reported yesterday.

With 65 people recovering in the past day, today is also the first day that recoveries have exceeded new cases in New Zealand, meaning the country's number of current cases has decreased for the first time since the lockdown began.

Dr Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health was expecting the number of new cases of Covid-19 to stay level.

He said there were now five more people in the Marist cluster, a larger increase in the Bluff cluster and one more in the Matamata cluster. There were no new clusters, he said.

The prime minister also spoke at this afternoon's media conference, saying the case rates suggested that the level four lockdown was working. "Now is not the time to change any of our behaviours," Ardern said.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Testing and monitoring

A public health researcher says the government needs to step up Covid-19 testing and introduce electronic surveillance of international arrivals.

Michael Baker, from the University of Otago Wellington, said the testing base needs to be expanded and that he was not sure whether moves to electronically track new arrivals into the country were immediate enough.

Dr Baker said initial results of the lockdown were positive, but that improved testing should entail swabbing people with other symptoms, such as loss of smell, or testing all healthcare and shop workers.

He said contact tracing also needs to be working better, and quarantine at the border is the country's weakest link.

Another scientist, Professor Nick Wilson from the University of Otago's public health department, said electronic bracelets could ensure travellers arriving in New Zealand did not break the rules and they could help with tracing contacts if people did breach their quarantine.

Police report hundreds flouting the rules

Police have reported that hundreds of people have breached the lockdown rules across the country.

In his media conference Dr Bloomfield said there had been 291 breaches of the CDEM Act or the Health Act and that 16 people have been prosecuted with 263 warnings and 10 youth referrals.

Police in Dunedin are continuing to spot surfers at the city's beaches despite orders last week that made it clear such activity was prohibited. The message was simple - stay at home, save lives, a police spokesperson said.

British PM taken to intensive care

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, Downing Street has said.

A spokesperson said he was moved on the advice of his medical team and is receiving "excellent care".

Mr Johnson has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise "where necessary", the spokesperson added.

The prime minister, 55, was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London with "persistent symptoms" on Sunday.

In this afternoon's media briefing Jacinda Ardern said she had written to Boris Johnson after she heard he had developed Covid-19.

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