85 new Covid-19 cases, 8 in Southern area

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Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed there are 85 new cases of Covid-19, including 76 confirmed cases and nine probable.

There are now 368 confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand, including eight new cases in the Southern District Health Board area.

The total of Southern cases is now 39.

The Ministry of Health also released a national breakdown of cases by age, with the age-bracket with the most number of cases being those between 20 and 29-years-old.

Southern cases surged yesterday

Southern cases of Covid-19 surged past 30 yesterday, as the Ministry of Health warned the number of cases of the potentially fatal pandemic disease will keep rising for at least the next 10 days.

The majority of the new cases in the South had some connection to the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown.

In addition, the SDHB confirmed at least one Covid-19 case attended the Wanaka A&P Show, an event which attracted thousands of visitors.

Coronavirus patient in intensive care

Thirty-seven people have now recovered. There are eight people in hospital, including one in intensive care.

The person in intensive care was in Nelson Hospital and was on ventilation. They had “significant” underlying health issues.

They had been in hospital for some time, but their condition had deteriorated in the past 24 hours.

Another person in Wellington Hospital was in a worse condition than the stable patients, but was not in intensive care.

Dr Bloomfield said no new clusters had been found.

The known clusters, include the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown.

Bloomfield again called on anyone who was waiting to hear back about a test to stay in self-isolation.

The capacity for testing was now at 2000 per day , which was on a par with Germany on a per person basis, Bloomfield said.

A strong link to overseas travel was still being seen in New Zealand cases, he said.

The Government is circulating appropriate advice on personal protection equipment (PPE) and this will be on the Ministry of Health’s website later today.

The Government’s national pandemic supply of PPE consists of:
• 1.9 million aprons and gowns
• 2.7 million pairs of gloves
• 670,000 eye protection equipment

“All stones are being turned over” to make sure there is enough PPEs for all healthcare works in New Zealand,” Bloomfield said.

It would take between a week and ten days for the number of cases to “turn around” and that was reliant on New Zealanders doing “their bit” and following the lockdown rules.

More special powers for the Government may be used as the lockdown continues.

More than 2500 retired health professionals had returned to the workforce to help with the Covid-19 outbreak response, Bloomfield said.

It would take a week to 10 days for the number of Covid-19 cases to come down.

“These are unprecedented times for New Zealand, and internationally,” Bloomfield said.

So far, 12,683 tests have been carried out.

There a now more than half a million cases of Covid-19 worldwide and 24,000 confirmed deaths.

Isolated reports of lockdown breaches

Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black clarified that it was OK for people to go for a walk “locally” – but people were going to places where they may need others to come help them if they get in to trouble.

That was not allowed, she said.

People were asked to stay out of the water because if they got into trouble they would need others to come and help them.

She reiterated that people should stay in their bubbles.

People should “use their judgment” when selecting exercise options.

Stuart-Black thanked people for mostly staying home.

Information from the police suggested that generally, people were doing the right thing.

However, there were isolated reports of some people congregating.

Stuart-Black said those people were reminded about their obligations at level four.

Over the coming days, the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to rise – “hang in there”, was her advice.

Work and Income payments, such as the benefit, would continue while New Zealand was in lockdown.

Stuart-Black said if someone is a visitor to New Zealand and needed financial support, they should contact their embassy.

NZ Herald and Otago Daily Times