COVID-19 update: 21 March

Media release

21 March 2020

Correction: 13 new cases not 14 (as stated in an earlier version of this release, due to double count of an existing case in Taranaki); total cases now 52.

13 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the past 24 hours in New Zealand.

Locations are: Wellington region 4, Auckland 3, Waikato 1, Taupo 1, Manawatu 2, Nelson 2.

The total number of cases today is 52 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 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 at Update on Ruby Princess and Celebrity Solstice cruises.

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.

Media contact

Peter Abernethy – 021 366 111

Back to top