89 new Covid-19 cases – largest daily rise yet

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Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. PHOTO: NZ HERALD

There are 89 new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand – the most recorded in a single day so far, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield says.

He said this showed New Zealand was not yet “flattening the curve” in terms of daily case rises.

He said it will be another week before the nationwide lockdown will have observable effects on the numbers.

The 89 new cases are made up of 76 confirmed cases and 13 probable cases. It brings the total to 797 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Thirteen people are in hospital and two are in the ICU.

51% of cases have links to overseas travel

Just 1% are community transmission – but Bloomfield expected that number to rise as 17% of cases are still being investigated. Bloomfield said many of those are expected to be confirmed as community transmission.

Ninety-two people have recovered, Bloomfield said.

Thirteen people are in hospital and two are in ICU.

There were 2563 tests yesterday – that makes a total of 26,000 tests so far.

More than 4000 tests can be processed a day, Bloomfield said.

He said there are eight labs in New Zealand, with that number ramping up in the coming days.

Areas with most number of cases

Bloomfield also spoke about the DHB areas with the most number of cases and how that might affect decisions on moving between alert levels.

“We are starting to analyse the information about Covid-19 in New Zealand and we know that we have had the most number of cases in the following four district health boards.

“Southern DHB, and that’s particularly around the Queenstown area, Waikato, Auckland and Waitemata.

“And one of the things we are now wanting to do is to look at the details of where those lab tests have been undertaken so that we can build a picture of the rate of testing in each region.

“And that will help inform our decision making about moving between alert levels.

Millions of masks to arrive next week

Some 1.8 million masks have been distributed to DHBs recently.

A further 41 million additional face masks will arrive from next week, Bloomfield said.

There are 23 million pairs of gloves and 800,000 glasses in the country at the moment.

“Our ICU staff are all geared up … to treat additional people,” he said, adding that there are only two people in ICU related to Covid-19.

Today marks a week since New Zealand went to alert level four and the country went into lockdown.

Police ‘will enforce’ lockdown rules

Police Commissioner Mike Bush thanked the New Zealanders who are complying with the lockdown rules.

But he also called out those who are not complying.

He said more Police staff have been deployed to encourage people to do the right thing – if that does not work, “there will be an enforcement follow up”.

More Police have been deployed to the Kaitaia region where Lance O’Sullivan was critical of.

Bush said the Police have issued 9000 PPE kits to Police staff – and more will come, he said.

Today is Bush’s last day in his role as Commissioner – he said he was “extremely proud” of the front line staff helping with the Covid-19 response.

He confirmed he would be continuing in his role in the Covid-19 committee.

Monitoring Kiwis arriving from overseas

People who arrive at the border will receive a call from welfare to make sure they’re okay, Bush said.

But now, those people will be texted by the Police asking if they consent to be monitored via their cell phone.

This was being worked through with the Privacy Commissioner, Bush said.

Bush said in the last 24 hours, the Police have been in contact with 4000 people in relation to the monitoring.

He was not able to say how many people have agreed to be monitored.

Bush said he would come back to reporters on specific data – he noted that setting up the monitoring system has been tough.

He said the Police would be visiting the people in contact over the monitoring.

He did not have the data to show how many people have not been checked in on since coming into New Zealand.

Bush told New Zealanders to expect more door knocking as the lockdown continues.

Bloomfield said that monitoring people coming into New Zealand was important – but it was an exercise in trust.

Asked about testing for Māori, Bloomfield said the Government was looking to get more detailed information.

Bloomfield said New Zealand’s testing capacity is twice as high, per capita, than that of the UK’s.

There are 100,000 swabs in New Zealand.

The country is moving from a “peacetime” distribution system, to a “wartime” distribution system.

He said there is only a small group of people where the message “stay home” is not sticking.

Officials continue to tell New Zealanders not to get too complacent and warn the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to rise.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government has ordered more Covid-19 testing.

And health officials are already heeding that call and are bringing on two more testing labs in the coming days, bringing the total up to 10.

Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald