COVID-19 No new cases - 16 March

Media release

16 March 2020

New Zealand has no new cases of COVID-19. We remain with 8 confirmed and 2 probable cases.

We can provide an update on the two cases announced yesterday.  The man in his 60s visiting from Australia, who was tested in Australia prior to flying to New Zealand, is now symptom-free but is in self isolation with two family members.  All are well.

The other case is a woman in her 30s who travelled from Denmark to Queenstown.

The woman was unwell and hospitalised for one night. She is now discharged and recovering in monitored self isolation.

Contact tracing on flights has changed to be the two seats in all directions: front, back, both sides and diagonal.  This is supported by current evidence and is in line with the approach taken by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

In both instances, public health staff are conducting contact tracing from flights and requesting close contacts stay in self isolation for 14 days from the date of potential exposure.

Healthline knows the seat numbers and will be able to advise anyone on the flight, whether they are considered a close or casual contact.

Our border restrictions, our assertive contact tracing and monitored self isolation are central to  our continued approach of keeping out COVID-19, stamping it out and slowing down its progression.

The test result of one passenger on the Golden Princess cruise ship was negative.  The Golden Princess has now left New Zealand.

There are other cruise ships in New Zealand, such as the Le Laperouse currently in Wellington which arrived before the new restrictions in place – we understand some of these passengers have already left the cruise to return home.  For those remaining in NZ, we ask that New Zealanders continue to greet visitors as warmly as we would normally do.


I want to thank the thousands of people who have responded so positively to the self-isolation process. 

Self-isolation is one of the most effective ways we have of keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

We know there have been a number of calls to Healthline on self-isolation – we have up to date information on our website.

Every situation is different, but at its most basic point it means staying at home if you’re sick, or if you may have been in contact with the virus. 

It means taking simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible. You can go outside, but you need to limit your contact with others.

We consider ‘close contact’ to occur in any situation where you have face-to-face contact closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.

The majority of people who will need to stay at home will be healthy.

You can still enjoy physical exercise (but not gyms), gardening, you may be able to arrange with your employer to work from home.  

You should avoid having visitors to your home. But it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food and supplies. 

Don’t use public transport, taxis or similar transport methods during your 14 day period. You can only use public transport after you arrive in New Zealand for the sole purpose of returning to your home, but cannot use it after that. You can use your own transport means (car, bike etc) whenever you wish.

You can live with others during your 14 days, but you need to avoid close contact with them. 

Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated. Clean surfaces after you use them and try to avoid touching them after you have cleaned them. 

Don’t share beds, linen or food and clean regularly.

Wash your hands often; cover your coughs and sneezes.


Healthline faces huge pressure with four times their usual call numbers from the same time last year – 4,500 calls yesterday.

Actions taken to address this include – prioritising callers with health issues; bringing in another 50 nurses; additional support from Ambulance and Plunketline; referral to separate call centre for for self isolation calls; referring callers to an online form to register for self isolation (addition to cards at the airport); and additional clinical workforce seconded from DHBs and primary care.

Many calls are from people wanting general information about COVID-19, which means people needing clinical advice are waiting longer.

People with symptoms of COVID-19 are reminded to call Healthline for advice and direction, and to call ahead before arriving at their GP or hospital for assessment.

Don’t call Healthline for travel advice. Access the Safetravel website

Don’t call Healthline for advice on attending events.  Do call the event organiser or access the Ministry of Health website for advice.

Don’t call Healthline about government assistance available. Call 0800 779 997 between 8am to 1am 7 days a week or

Healthline is monitoring 2,875 people in self-isolation. To date 7,070 have completed self-isolation.  Note these do not include those now in self isolation since midnight Sunday.

Healthline continues to add resources and people to the team.  Since 7 February more than 150 additional staff have come on board, to reduce call times and provide the services.  We are working with Healthline on further boosting its workforce.


As at 8 am 16 March, across the laboratories in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and ESR, we have:

  • 8 confirmed cases
  • 2 probable cases
  • 514 negative tests

There remain a number of tests underway today.

Healthline & Self-isolation 

Healthline continues to manage a larger than usual number of calls.  They are currently running at more than triple the usual number of calls compared to the same time last year.

Healthline continues to scale up to meet demand.  It has trained nearly 150 additional staff to manage calls and brought in more nurses and clinical capacity from the ambulance service and Plunketline. 

As of yesterday, there are 2,875 registered (people or households) and currently in isolation.

7,070 have completed isolation.  There have been 10,645 total registrations.

“I want to again thank everyone who has self-isolated - whether that be confirmed cases, close contacts or those who've returned from overseas. Self-isolation remains one of the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19," says Dr Bloomfield.

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