Eight new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand have been confirmed today, bringing the total number of cases to 28.
As with the cases confirmed yesterday, these new cases are all related to overseas travel. That’s an important point as it means, at this point there is no evidence of community transmission in New Zealand.
Public health staff are investigating the travel history of the cases so we can quickly identify all close contacts and isolate them.
Of these eight new cases, two are in Southern DHB (one in Queenstown, one in Dunedin); two in Taranaki; one in Rotorua; two in Auckland and one in Northland.
Details for each of these cases, including flight information where applicable, will be on the Ministry of Health website as soon as possible.
One of the new cases is in hospital. Others are at home and self-isolating.
While it’s important to be alert to the increasing numbers of cases, we are expecting more, given the rapidly evolving situation overseas. We will continue to identify, test and isolate to ensure we can stamp COVID-19 out and slow it down.
‘We want to ensure New Zealand’s health system is able to continue delivering a whole range of care for all New Zealanders in addition to responding to the demands of COVID-19,’ says the Ministry's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Healthline will be provided with the seat numbers of the recent flights and will soon be able to advise anyone on these flights whether they are considered a close contact. Close contacts will be required to undertake 14 days of self-isolation, and will be monitored for symptoms.
A reminder that self-isolation for cases or close contacts of cases is straight forward – stay at home or in one location.
Self-isolation for those who’ve returned home from overseas is essentially about physical distancing – you can still go for a walk around the block or for a bike ride or get out in the garden.
But it’s important to remember not to socialise or visit places where there are other people.
More information is on our website. Where possible, ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online. Make sure any deliveries are left outside your home for you to collect.
Some New Zealand companies are now offering a ‘contactless’ delivery option, where they notify you when they have delivered your order but remain nearby to ensure you receive it.
Supporting our mental wellbeing
It's important to not only look after our physical health but also to maintain our resilience and look after our mental wellbeing at the same time. The Ministry of Health has initiated a pyschosocial response to ensure people have the information they need to be able to take care of their mental wellbeing.
This includes ways of being able to talk about COVID-19 safely to children who may be experiencing distress. There is information available on our website and this will be added to in the coming days.
As with all aspects of our response to COVID-19, we are regularly reviewing our advice on physical distancing.
The risk is still greatest within one metre but as a precautionary measure, the distance for contact tracing purposes within public health units will remain focused on those within a two metre distance of a confirmed or probable case.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 who are in strict isolation should maintain a two metre distance from others in the household.
Close household contacts of confirmed cases are at a higher risk of also developing COVID-19 and should also maintain a two metre distance.
Agencies are currently working together to develop the best ways to support physical distancing within community settings. Physical distancing in workplaces is one way we can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or the risk. For example, from next week the Ministry of Health will be working towards having a third of our people working from home at any one time. We'll rotate them through.
It’s about creating more space between people in the building and is part of getting physical distancing to be the norm, during our response to COVID-19.
All of us have a role to play in stopping further spread. Fundamental to New Zealand's response is not putting yourself or others at risk if you are unwell – not going to work or being out in public if you are sick. And not travelling if you are sick. We need to all unite against COVID-19.