Wellington Scoop

NZ now has 155 covid-19 cases “confirmed and probable;” 11 more in Wellington


The Ministry of Health announced today that New Zealand has forty more cases of Covid-19. Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there are now 155 “confirmed and probable” cases. Four of them are related to ‘community transmission’ – one in the Wairarapa, and three in Auckland. Eleven of the confirmed new cases and four of the “probable” cases are in Wellington; one of these is a teenager.

Only six of New Zealand’s patients are in hospital. None has required intensive care.

Recent travel back from overseas is still the main driver of Covid-19 cases in this country.

Wellington.Scoop – March 23
The Ministry of Health today announced 36 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing the total to 102. Three of the new cases are in Wellington, one in Upper Hutt, and one on the Kapiti Coast. More than half are in Auckland. Most of the new cases are directly related to overseas travel.

Report from RNZ
Ministry of Health Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said: “These are people who have returned to New Zealand recently and have become symptomatic, been tested and confirmed as cases of Covid-19. Most of the remaining cases are close contacts of a previously confirmed case or are associated with an event where there were confirmed cases already, for example, the Hereford Cattle conference in Queenstown.”

There are still two cases – in the Wairarapa and Auckland – that could not be linked to overseas travel and are being treated as community transmission.

More than 7400 tests have been carried out so far and 1100-1500 tests are being done every day.

Contacting tracing efforts are being ramped up and the ministry is expecting more cases, Dr Bloomfield said.

“We have expected them because we have had people returning from a range of places around the world that have higher rates of Covid-19 and the important thing of course is that we find these cases, we isolate them, we identify close contacts and we isolate those people too.”

The Ministry of Health’s new team to contact trace can do 50 new cases a day and Dr Bloomfield said this was on top of the previous MoH team.

He said the alert levels were a government decision and the prime minister would be talking about the alert level within the hour. [Prime Minister announces move to Level 3 Alert immediately, and the maximum Level 4 on Wednesday afternoon.]

Four cases in Otago

Wellington.Scoop – March 22
New Zealand today has 66 confirmed cases of COVID-19, fourteen more than yesterday. None of the new cases is in Wellington. The Ministry of Health says: With continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.

RNZ reports: At a media conference in Wellington this afternoon, Ministry of Health Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said five of the new cases were in Auckland, one in Northland, one in Canterbury, two in New Plymouth, two in Waikato, one in Tauranga, one in Coromandel and one in Dunedin. It brings the total number to 66.

They are all in self-isolation and their close contacts have also been identified and told to self-isolate.

Eleven have a history of international travel, while one is a close contact of a confirmed case.

Two attended the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown from March 9-13 and the cases were being linked with international travel, and not due to community transmission.

Just over 1200 tests were carried out yesterday, bringing the total to 6000.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the government would move to the next phases of the Covid-19 alert levels, if two confirmed cases from yesterday were proven to be the result of community transmission.

A level 3 alert status recognises a heightened risk that the disease is not contained and demands that authorities further restrict travel and public gatherings. A host of public venues would face closures, including gyms, libraries, museums, food courts and pools. Some non-essential businesses would face closure too.

Dr Bloomfield said work was ongoing to determine whether these two cases should be classified as cases of community transmission.

“Our further investigations of these two cases have still not identified a firm link to overseas travel,” he said. “Just for clarity, community transmission is when we cannot confirm exactly where the infection came from. As we investigate these cases further, including close contact tracing, this increases our understanding of what the infection pathway might have been and we can then communicate with anyone who was a close or casual contact and ensure appropriate action is taken.”

News from Ministry of Health – March 21
Thirteen more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the past 24 hours in New Zealand. Four of them are in the Wellington region. The other locations are: Auckland 3, Waikato 1, Taupo 1, Manawatu 2, Nelson 2.

The total number of cases today is 53 confirmed and four probable.

Most of these cases are travel-related but as yet, in at least two instances, no link to overseas travel has been ascertained and we are continuing to investigate. At this point we cannot rule out a risk of community transmission on these cases.

Details for each of these cases will be on the Ministry of Health website as soon as it is finalised. The website will continue to be updated as fuller information is received.

“We always knew cases apparently not linked to imported cases would happen and we are prepared,” says Director General of Health, says Dr Ashley Bloomfield. “It is more important now than ever that we continue with our efforts to trace and track individuals who may have been in contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“Physical distancing is fundamental to our collective response and we ask all New Zealanders to conscientiously play their part in following the guidelines relating to social contact and the ban on large gatherings, which can be found on the Ministry’s website.”

The number of new cases is in line with what we’ve seen in the past few days. Around 1500 tests were processed yesterday.

Three of the confirmed cases are in hospital. A man in his 60s is in Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown, a woman is in hospital in Nelson and another in North Shore Hospital. All three are stable.

Cruise ships

An Australian cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, which was in Wellington before it left New Zealand five days ago, has had three Australian passengers and one crew member test positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health is in the process of contacting the 56 New Zealanders who were on board the ship, which includes 28 who have returned to New Zealand. These people would be covered by the requirement since 15 March for all travellers returning to New Zealand to go into self-isolation for 14 days. They are now considered as close contacts and are being followed up daily by health officials.

Details of the movement of that ship and the Celebrity Solstice, which had a confirmed COVID-19 case of a New Zealander on board can be found here.

PM advises reduce contacts – second level of alert

Providing Support

This weekend is the first for the many people in self-isolation. It’s important to remember that doesn’t mean social isolation. It’s really important for mental wellbeing to stay connected to people.

There are lots of ways to reach out to people by phone, social media, or online contact. Talking to people and checking in on others keeps us all connected and that is more important than ever.

There is good information about this and other guidelines related to COVID-19 on the Ministry website which is frequently updated.

March 20: Two new cases in Wellington


  1. Pablo, 21. March 2020, 22:50

    Doctors are extremely concerned about insufficient action from the government. An Emergency Centre lead clinician has started a petition for the government to immediately follow the examples set by Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Specifically there should be
    1. Quarantine (not self-isolation) of confirmed COVID19 cases
    2. Extensive testing and contact tracing
    3. Self-isolation of all asymptomatic contacts
    4. Mandatory social lockdown
    Please visit this change.org link to register your support. The future of our country depends on decisive action. Please share this as widely as possible.

  2. TrevorH, 22. March 2020, 21:16

    Thanks Pablo, I have signed. The current response is inadequate. We need to buy time to prepare our defences, medical and civil.

  3. Alan, 22. March 2020, 21:22

    All we hear each day is the figure of new cases increasing.
    Are people not recovering or have some recovered since the first confirmed case?
    If that is the case I haven’t heard any mention of recovery, only new cases. If people are on the mend, why are we not given some encouraging news for once?

  4. TrevorH, 23. March 2020, 7:37

    What exactly is the government’s strategy? Are we still trying to contain and eradicate the disease?

  5. N.D., 23. March 2020, 9:01

    Well said Alan and remember some people who test positive exhibit no symptoms at all. The authorities need to give clear information about what the fuss is about otherwise, as in the UK, people are going to revert to their natural gregarious selves and ‘go to the pub’ etc.

  6. Sharona C, 23. March 2020, 18:57

    “It’ll be hard for some people” is the understatement of the year.

  7. Andy Foster, 23. March 2020, 23:10

    Our Government made exactly the right decision today. The decision seemed to be very well received and personally I am very relieved. I don’t think they could have left it any longer without it being almost impossible to contain. This is the only way to beat this disease without it costing many many thousands of lives. Really important that we don;t think this gets us out of the woods. We will all need to play our part in following all the good health practices. It is literally a matter of life and death. Close to 15,000 deaths globally so far and rapidly increasing. Stay safe, keep distance, practice good hygiene. Kia kaha – Andy

  8. Don M, 25. March 2020, 11:53

    Yes, it’s pity the Council didn’t take action itself, for example cancelling the Harbourside market, and follow the courageous and foresighted example set by Phil Goff in Auckland.

  9. Farmer Bill, 25. March 2020, 14:54

    Disappointing to see LiquorLand closing in Masterton which will push people across to the Pak and Save right opposite and increase the crowding over there. L.L. also sells food (nuts and crisps) so double standards in my opinion.

  10. Peter Kerr, 25. March 2020, 16:37

    It’s always enlightening to get a rural perspective at critical moments during a global crisis, Bill. “Eta Ripples, anyone?”

  11. Farmer Bill, 25. March 2020, 17:22

    Glad to help Peter. My favourite chips are Heartland, made by a farmer near Timaru. I like the flat cuts – a litle more expensive (about 50c) than ripple cuts.