Wellington Scoop

National total of covid-19 cases reaches 205; three patients in Wellington Hospital


New Zealand now has 47 more confirmed cases of the covid-19 virus, and three more probable cases – making a national total of 205. Three of the patients are in the Wellington Regional Hospital – none is in intensive care. Another three are in other hospitals. Of the new cases, ten are in Wellington, including three people who returned after a group trip to New York.

This information was provided today by the Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

He said that 22 individuals have recovered, ten of them in the last 24 hours.

A majority of the covid-19 cases continue to have a direct link with overseas travel, including being in the same household as someone who has returned from overseas, or they have attended a known event or cluster of other cases (eg, World Hereford cattle conference in Queenstown or recent cruise ship travel) or are close contacts of a confirmed case.

Four cases are being investigated as being in the category of “community transmission.”

In probable cases, the person has returned a negative laboratory result but the clinician treating the person has diagnosed them as a probable case due to their exposure history and clinical symptoms. There have been 16 probable cases to date. Probable cases are treated as if they were a positive laboratory confirmed case and the actions taken are the same as for confirmed cases – that is self-isolation and active contact tracing.

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Earlier reports:
March 24, 23, 22, 21

RNZ reports from today’s briefing
Eight people who arrived in Auckland airport yesterday tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr Bloomfield said there were five confirmed cases “within the community in one school” – Marist School in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert. The school has been closed all week and all students and staff are in isolation and being treated as close contacts. A number of staff are being tested as they are presenting with symptoms.

There are now four cases of community transmission in New Zealand, and more being investigated. Dr Bloomfield said the clusters of cases in the school and Hereford cattle conference could be considered community transmission.

Dr Bloomfield said he expected the numbers to increase for at least the next 10 days.

The country is preparing to go into a full lockdown for alert level 4 from 11.59pm tonight, for a minimum of four weeks.

Civil Defence Emergency Management director general Sarah Stuart-Black said a state of national emergency was declared at 12.21pm, and applied to all of New Zealand – including the Chatham Islands, Stewart Island and other inhabited islands. A nationwide mobile alert will be issued to all New Zealanders between 6-7pm tonight.

The State of Emergency legislation allows it to be in place for seven days and can be extended, said Stuart Black.

In a state of emergency, authorities will have powers that are not normally available to them, such as the possibility of military patrols. She said there would be no tolerance for people who do not self isolate.

Dr Bloomfield said police would announce either later today or tomorrow what the consequences for people flouting the self isolation rules would be. But he said people who go hunting or get into situations where they might need rescuing were taking people from the front line in the fight against Covid-19.