21 Aug 2020

As it happened: Covid-19 updates on Friday 21 August

6:23 pm on 21 August 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says NZ's alert levels will not be lifted early, adding that those who blame and shame people with the coronavirus are 'dangerous'.

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.

Cabinet met this morning to review the settings for the alert level restrictions throughout the country

At this afternoon's media conference - where it was announced that there were 11 new cases in New Zealand, including nine in the community - Ardern said Cabinet will meet to decide the next steps in the plan and the current alert levels on Monday.

"No-one wants to go backwards."

Cabinet had looked at the latest information and there was nothing to suggest New Zealand needed to change its course or escalate its response, Ardern said.

Ardern said the range of the cluster had been identified and New Zealand was not dealing with multiple outbreaks - the majority of cases had already been contacted traced and put in isolation.

She said the country was getting in front of the virus.

The prime minister began her comments at today's press conference by thanking those who had been tested, and slamming anybody who blamed those who have been tested for the coronavirus for the lockdown.

"We would not have got in front of this cluster without them.

"Vilifying those who have caught the virus, or those who helped keep us safe by getting tested is something that I simply will not tolerate. It is those who shame others, those who seek to blame, they are the dangerous ones. They are the ones who cause people to hesitate before getting a test, they are the ones who make people feel afraid."

She said New Zealanders needed to stick together, supporting each other and acting responsibly to defeat Covid-19.

Ardern also pointed out that the United States had 16,563 cases per million people, while New Zealand had 269 cases per million.

See how the day unfolded with RNZ's live blog:

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