9 Apr 2020

Covid-19: What happened on lockdown day 15

7:29 pm on 9 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.

New Covid-19 cases dropped again, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to congratulate the country's efforts during the lockdown.

"In the face of the greatest threat to human health that we have faced in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence," Ardern said.

"As we head into Easter, I say thank you to you and your bubble."

Here's further detail on what took place today.

Clockwise from top left: Jacinda Ardern speaks to media, police checkpoints ahead of Easter weekend, international arrivals will have mandatory quarantine, and the Ministry of Health is working on an app for contact tracing.

Photo: RNZ

Cases fall again

Just 29 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours.

It is the fourth day in a row there has been a day-on-day drop.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were 23 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and six probable cases.

That brings the total number of cases to 1239.

There have been no additional deaths, but 14 people are in hospital, with four in ICU at North Shore, Middlemore and Dunedin hospitals.

Dr Bloomfield said 317 people had now recovered from the coronavirus, with 35 recovering in the past day.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

He said 41 percent of cases were travel-related, 44 were related to close contacts and 2 percent were community transmission. Thirteen percent were still under investigation.

There are still 12 clusters, the three largest are the wedding in Bluff with 87 cases, Marist College with 84 and Matamata with 66.

Lockdown not ending early

Despite the drop in new cases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made it clear the lockdown will not end before the four-week period is up.

She said any decision on changing the country's alert level will be made on 20 April, two days before the four-week lockdown ends.

She said this meant businesses will have two days to prepare for any move into alert level 3.

Mandatory quarantine for new arrivals

Ardern also announced that from midnight tonight every person arriving in New Zealand will have to go into compulsory quarantine as a measure to try and combat Covid-19.

They will need to go into either quarantine or "managed isolation" at an approved facility provided by the government for a minimum of 14 days.

Ardern said even one person slipping through the cracks and bringing the virus in could see an explosion of cases.

New modelling released

There could have been hundreds more cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand already if a lockdown had not gone ahead, new modelling shows.

Instead, the country now has a high chance of eliminating the virus, the research says - but only if the level 4 restrictions are extended.

  • 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

Te Pūnaha Matatini, a cluster of researchers from Landcare Research and the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury, has been working for more than a month on modelling the spread of the virus here.

The paper published by Te Pūnaha Matatini today showed that had the government not gone into a level four lockdown, the number of new cases each day would exceed 150 by now, rising to 350 a day by the middle of next week.

Dealing with flareups after the lockdown

Big questions remain about how the country is going to be able to stamp out flareups of Covid-19 after the lockdown.

Experts agree rapid mass tracing of all a sick person's close contacts is the most vital weapon against the virus - and that tracing is far easier when under lockdown.

The Ministry of Health says it can trace 700 close contacts a day, a tenth of what some epidemiologists say is good enough.

Ardern and the Ministry of Health both said the government was looking at technology options.

Ardern also said the Ministry of Health is working on a locally developed app to improve the tracing of the contacts of Covid-19 cases.

Police Easter roadblocks set up

The police are staying tight-lipped on where road blocks will be placed to prevent non-essential travel this Easter.

Media have been invited to visit some of the weekend checkpoints, starting Friday in Auckland and Christchurch.

A police spokesperson says that for operational reasons they can't provide details on where checkpoints will be placed.

But one checkpoint has already been set up north of Wellington, and police near Murchison have already been turning back motorists trying to leave their region.

Man jailed for spitting

A man was sentenced to three months in prison for spitting at police officers.

The man appeared in the New Plymouth District Court today on a charge of aggravated assault, to which he pleaded guilty.

Police said in a statement the man had been onto several private properties and was located by police staff nearby.

When they were dealing with him he became aggressive and spat at them, police said.

Yesterday, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said spitting had become an increasing risk to police, public, and health staff during the lockdown.

Other Covid-19 news

Among other updates, two nurses at Waikato Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.

Waikato DHB said the nurses, who work in the same ward, were stood down immediately on developing symptoms.

Waikato DHB Chief Executive Dr Kevin Snee said the hospital was taking all precautions.

Fraud charges are on the cards as complaints by workers in lockdown over their employers pocketing the government's wage subsidy are now being probed.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson Stu Lumsden told Morning Report the body was assessing 291 complaints so far and that prosecutions for fraud could be on the cards for companies found pocketing money.

The nationwide move towards distance learning for students from next week will highlight inequities among children in New Zealand like never before, educators say.

As schools prepare for the start of Term 2, staff at low-decile schools say many of their students will miss out on learning online because they don't have access to a device or the internet at home.

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