10 May 2020

Covid-19: What happened in New Zealand on 10 May

7:56 pm on 10 May 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.

As New Zealanders celebrate a unique Mother's Day many are also on a countdown - in under 24 hours the prime minister is due to announce if the country can move to alert level 2 this week.

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A baby boom may be imminent; businesses are desperate to re-open; Cantabrians are urged to stay local; and Covid-19 cases pass 4 million worldwide. Photo: 123RF / RNZ / and AFP

There is increasing pressure from the opposition and business groups to re-open the country, with the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) urging the government to make the move to spark a recovery for businesses.

A move to level 2 would see a significant loosening of lockdown conditions, with businesses such as retail outlets, hairdressers, restaurants, bars, sports facilities and schools allowed to re-open with strong hygiene and distancing rules.

However, a public health expert said the latest figures on Covid-19 provided no evidence that the country was ready to move to level 2.

Cabinet is due to make a decision when it meets in the morning and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will share it with the nation afterwards.

The EMA's chief executive, Brett O'Riley, said its business assistance line received nearly 1000 calls last week and 50 percent of those were worried about their businesses surviving.

Professor Michael Baker

Michael Baker Photo: Supplied

O'Riley said businesses were desperate to get back to normal.

He said businesses had demonstrated that they understood health and safety, and had worked hard to implement the guidelines around alert level 3, and were poised to do the same for level 2.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker said the country could use a few more weeks under level 3.

"People have lost their livelihoods over this, and we have to just make it worthwhile. And that means keeping your physical distance for a few more weeks, until we have a nice, clear patch of no infections. And then the big prize of that effort is that we can go back to life almost as normal."

Baker said people would need to be extra vigilant in a lower alert level, whenever it went ahead.

Two more cases

Another two new cases have been confirmed in this country, the Ministry of Health revealed.

One case is linked to the St Margaret's Hospital & Rest Home in Auckland, but is a household contact of an earlier case, not a healthcare worker. That person has been in self-isolation since the earlier case was notified.

The second is someone who has returned from overseas so is regarded as an imported case.

There have now been a total of 1144 confirmed cases and 350 probable cases.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said 1371 people have now recovered from the coronavirus, which is 92 percent of all confirmed and probable cases.

There are two people in hospital with Covid-19, in Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. Neither is in intensive care.

The world passed another Covid-19 milestone today with reported cases exceeding four million, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.

The global death toll has also risen to above 277,000. There are fears that both figures vastly under-estimate the true number of deaths and cases because of the different ways data is recorded in many countries.

Police report breaches drop by half

While it has been warm and sunny in many regions, police say the majority of people have kept to the lockdown rules - at least in the first half of the weekend.

Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers said in the 24 hours from 8am yesterday, police received 470 reports of potential breaches of alert level 3.

He said the vast majority were not flouting the rules, but there had been some disappointing exceptions.

Chambers said there had been a 50 percent drop in the number of potential breaches reported this weekend, compared with last weekend.

Campaign aimed at Christchurch people

Cantabrians will be uged to shop and holiday locally for the next year.

Christchurch's economic development agency said hundreds of jobs could be saved if each household spends a little more money locally.

Leaders met online last week to discuss the economic impacts of the pandemic, in the inaugural Christchurch Economic Recovery Forum.

The number of unemployed Christchurch residents is expected to triple.

But ChristchurchNZ's chief executive, Joanna Norris, said more than 600 businesses are getting specialist support and funding and local residents need to spend a little more to help them survive.

3 January 2019: Christchurch, New Zealand - New Regent Street in the centre of Christchurch, with outdoor cafes and speciality shops, and the tram route running through it.

Cantabrians will be encouraged to spend more in their local community to help with the recovery from Covid-19. Photo: 123RF

Baby boom touted

Six weeks of lockdown at home has allowed many couples to spend more time together, with some predicting there will be a bump in the number of pregnancies as a result.

But not everyone is having more sex, Family Planning said.

Chief executive Jackie Edmond said there was also a possibility some people would be having less sex due to financial and other stresses.

She said with less access to Family Planning's services and contraception it was possible that more babies would be conceived at this time, however, the uncertainty of a global pandemic could also make some couples decide against having children.

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It's possible the nation will experience an increase in the number of pregnancies within the next few months due to couples spending more time together. Photo: 123rf.com

Biosecurity, conservation projects accelerated

The government has pushed forward 55 biosecurity and conservation projects to provide work for up to 160 people who have lost their jobs during the lockdown.

The projects in Northland, East Coast, Hawke's Bay and Canterbury are part of the $100 million redeployment package announced in March.

A key focus will be removing invasive wilding pine trees, which are a major threat to farmland, waterways and ecosystems.

About $3m has been allocated for the projects.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said it was work that needed to be done and accelerating the projects actually saved money as the cost of removing wilding pines rose by 30 percent each year.

Opportunities for similar projects existed in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Central North Island, the government said.

Wilding pines invade farmland on Molesworth Station.

Wilding pines that are a threat to farmland, waterways and ecosystems will be targeted in some new projects announced by the government. Photo: MPI

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