COVID-19 media update, 2 April

News article

02 April 2020

The All of Government COVID-19 National Response will provide an update at 1.00 pm today.

Update summary

View video of the media briefing below.

Latest case numbers, hospital admissions and other information is available in our 2 April media release.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed there are 76 new confirmed cases and 13 new probable cases. There are no additional deaths. There are 92 cases that have recovered. The combined total of 797 confirmed and probable cases.

Currently we are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel and confirmed cases within New Zealand. Only 1 percent of current cases are community transmission, but a further 17 percent are being investigated and we expect many of these to be community transmission.

People coming into the country who are close contacts of existing cases have been self-isolating since well before our current alert levels were introduced. That is a high trust arrangement. The Police are reinforcing that arrangement, particularly with monitoring of people coming into the country because they are at slightly higher risk than the general population.

Anyone arriving in the country who is symptomatic is quarantined at the airport and tested. Other people who don’t have sufficient plans for self-isolation are put into supervised accommodation and only moved out to their self-isolation arrangements once they can satisfy us that their arrangements are appropriate.

For many, we will be trusting them to go into a self-isolation arrangement and they have very clear understanding and expectations about what that involves.

New Zealand is not yet “flattening the COVID-19 curve.” The 89 cases reported today is the highest number of new cases we have had in a single day. We expect the numbers to keep rising and we won’t see any impact of the measures that are currently in place for another week at least.

We have good testing capacity. New Zealand’s current testing capacity is already double per capita that of the United Kingdom and it is 50 percent higher than that of South Korea. The case definition was updated yesterday but prior to that, a lot of testing was being done of people who didn’t have international travel history.

We are moving to a national distribution system for both PPE and swabs to make sure they are where they need to be. We are making sure DHBs have supplies so they can make sure the supplies go out to their Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs), and to practices that might still be swabbing.

There are 49 CBACs already in place and 50 dedicated practices doing testing for all practices in their area.

We have a team working on policy work to get funding out to general practices. There has already been an initial payment to all GPs to help them with this response. I am very aware that they have two revenue streams that have dropped - one is co-payments for patient visits, and the other is ACC-related revenue because as people are out and about less, there are fewer injuries.

The Centre for Disease Control is reviewing its advice on whether the wider public should wear face masks. There is a range of views on this. I am watching that very closely. There is some suggestion that routine wearing of face masks by people out in public may help reduce transmission, especially where people are asymptomatic.

Work is happening across government on what the criteria might be to help determine when New Zealand could come off the level 4 lockdown.

Clarification: Recovery from COVID-19

The current criteria being used in New Zealand are:

An individual with COVID-19 can be released from isolation when at least 10 days has passed since onset of symptoms and at least 48 hours since symptom resolution.  A negative test result is not required for an individual in isolation at home, though a test could be at the discretion of the clinician where the patient has been in hospital:

New Zealand's approach is largely in line with Australia - though they require 72 hours of being symptom free.

The Technical Advisory Group meets again Friday 3 April and this is one of the things being discussed. 

Speakers:

  • Mike Bush, Commissioner of Police – update on Covid-19 national response
  • Dr Ashley Bloomfield,  Director-General of Health – health update

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