12 Apr 2020

Covid-19 wrap: What happened on 12 April, Easter Sunday

9:03 pm on 12 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 Easter Sunday, the Director-General of Health announced New Zealand had another 18 cases of Covid-19, the lowest daily number in three weeks and a development he said was "encouraging".

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 12: Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 12, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today's lower number of new Covid-19 cases was encouraging, but warned there could be more deaths in the coming days. Photo: Getty Images

The 18 new and confirmed cases of Covid-19 brings the total number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand to 1330, while 471 people have recovered from the virus.

There are 14 people in hospital, five of them are in intensive care and one is in a critical condition in Dunedin.

Yesterday, there were 29 new confirmed and probable cases and two more deaths were announced, bringing the death toll from Covid-19 to four.

Two residents of the Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch have died and about 30 cases are linked to the facility.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield today said the most likely scenario was that Covid-19 was brought in by a staff member and he warned that there could be more deaths in the coming days.

Bloomfield has directed district health board officials to visit every rest home in the country to ensure watertight procedures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

There have been coronavirus outbreaks in three rest homes, two in Christchurch and one in Waikato.

Bloomfield said the affected facilities had some flaws and he wants to avoid that elsewhere, particularly looking ahead to the end of lockdown.

He has also asked DHBs to assess whether rest homes have enough protective equipment and that they are using it correctly.

  • 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

Even with the number of Covid-19 deaths in New Zealand doubling to four over Easter, this country's mortality rate from the virus is extremely low compared to comparable countries. Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking Covid-19 developments around the world, said differing mortality rates in different countries may be able to be attributed to demographics, characteristics of the health care system and differences in the number of people being tested.

Mercy flight brings NZ cruise ship passengers home

A plane evacuating 16 New Zealanders from a cruise ship in Uruguay landed in Melbourne this morning, before bringing 13 of them to Auckland.

The group have been stuck on the Greg Mortimer, where more than half of its 217 passengers have tested positive for Covid-19.

Thirteen of the New Zealanders flew on to Auckland this afternoon, where they will be tested and quarantined. The other three are Australian residents and will remain there.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, said evacuated New Zealanders were not safe and the government intervened because they could not safely stay where they were.

Passengers of the COVID-19 coronavirus-stricken Australian liner Greg Mortimer disembark in personal protective equipment from the cruise ship at Montevideo's port from where Australian and New Zealander passengers will be directly escorted to the international airport

Passengers of the Covid-19 stricken Greg Mortimer disembarking from the cruise ship at Montevideo's port before being escorted to the international airport to fly home. Photo: AFP

While in another mercy mission, the Defence Force helped retrieve conservation, MetService and GNS staff trapped on a remote island 1000km north of Auckland.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the workers had been on the island for the past 12 months, but when the lockdown was announced, the HMNZS Canterbury dashed north from the sub-Antarctic Campbell and Auckland islands to pick them up from Rangitāhua / Raoul Island.

The six conservation staff were carrying out pest control, biodiversity and maintenance work on the island, which was now closed, she said.

Nearly 1000 motel units available for homeless

Nearly 1000 motel units have been made available for the homeless community since the lockdown began.

Minister for Housing Megan Woods said nearly 500 units were already filled and each unit could contain one person or a family.

Government agencies were working very closely with iwi, community housing providers such as Housing First, Māori organisations, and local government to fill the remaining units, Woods said.

She said most motel units are being rented for three months and the government is looking at ways to keep people housed after the lockdown.

General vision of homelessness in Auckland central city.

Nearly 1000 motel units have been made available for the homeless community since the lockdown began. Photo: RNZ / Luke McPake

Most NZers willing to extend lockdown 'pain' - survey

Almost two-thirds of New Zealanders are willing to have the current lockdown extended so Covid-19 can be eradicated, a new survey has found.

Research New Zealand has been taking the pulse of the nation since the lockdown began.

Research NZ partner Emanuel Kalafatelis said the latest survey, undertaken this week, asked people if they would be willing to remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks beyond 22 April when it is due to finish.

Sixty percent agreed they would, 14 percent disagreed, and 26 percent did not know. He said 60 percent showed a high level of support.

Auckland's deserted viaduct area during the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown.

A survey has found 60 percent of New Zealanders would be willing to remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks beyond 22 April when it is due to end. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

What has been happening overseas?

* The United States has now overtaken Italy to have the highest death toll from coronavirus in the world. The latest data, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, shows more than 20,000 people in the US have now died. The US is also the first nation to record 2000 virus deaths in a single day. - BBC

* Mainland China reported 99 new coronavirus infections on 11 April, more than doubling from the previous day to reach a one-month high, as the number of single-day imported cases hit a record, official data released on Sunday showed. Almost all the new infections involve travellers from overseas, with just two out of the 99 cases having been locally transmitted. - Reuters

* "Coronavirus will not overcome us," the Queen has said, in an Easter message to the nation. Referencing the tradition of lighting candles to mark the occasion, she said: "As dark as death can be - particularly for those suffering with grief - light and life are greater." It comes as the number of coronavirus deaths in UK hospitals reached 9875. - BBC / Reuters

* Pope Francis urged people "not to yield to fear" over coronavirus, calling on them to be "messengers of life in a time of death". The leader of the Roman Catholic Church was speaking at his Easter vigil service on Saturday evening in an almost empty St Peter's Basilica. Members of the world's 1.3 billion Catholic community could follow a live stream of the service. - BBC

* Brazil has become the first country in the southern hemisphere to surpass 1000 deaths with coronavirus. The health ministry confirmed 1,056 deaths and 19,638 cases. The numbers are likely to be much higher as only patients at hospitals are being tested. - BBC

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