COVID-19 media update, 3 April

News article

03 April 2020

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

View video of the media briefing below.

Update summary

Dr Bloomfield told media there are 49 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 new probable cases today. There are no additional deaths to report.

There are now 103 reported cases which we can confirm have recovered.

The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is now 868.

13 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 1 person in ICU. All those people are in a stable condition.  

Dr Bloomfield reported a 7 day rolling average of tests at 2041 per day.  The total of lab tests to date is 29,485. A high number of 3446 tests were processed yesterday.  

He said we now have capacity for 5400 tests a day. 

Dr Bloomfield says Community based assessment centres have been operating in some locations for the past couple of weeks. They were set up to safely and efficiently test for COVID-19.    

There are now 62 around the country in addition to 45 designated practices or swabbing centres.

He said we’re asking for all DHBs to stand up their CBACs this weekend so we know where demand is strongest and so we can test that the process of sending tests through to labs is running efficiently. 

He confirmed yesterday about 300 people arrived into New Zealand – numbers are much lower than even a few days ago.

All travellers entering into New Zealand are required to self-isolate for 14 days from arrival.  

Everyone also needs to fill out a comprehensive list of questions about possible exposure, symptoms and testing.
 
Passengers are being disembarked in small groups for processing. When they meet with health officials, they will be asked about their plans for self-isolation and transport.

If a passenger is symptomatic on arrival, they will be assessed, quarantined and tested. At present we have 135 people in quarantine. 

If a passenger is not symptomatic on arrival, they will be asked to explain their plan for self-isolation and transport arrangements. If their plans are not satisfactory, they will be placed in managed isolation. We currently have 1405 people in managed isolation. 

If someone already has a good plan, they are required to go into self-isolation according to that plan. 

Dr Bloomfield acknowledged the work frontline primary care staff are playing in assessing, identifying and testing people for COVID-19

This week has seen a Government announcement around initial funding support for general practice ($15m) and community pharmacy ($15m) as part of the frontline response. 

As a result of this announcement, a general practice with about 5000 people registered would receive around $12,000 as an upfront payment. In the case of a high needs practice, that would be around $22,000. 

In addition, practices are eligible for the wage subsidy scheme and we are doing urgent work around funding for primary care to ensure they are financially sustainable. 

Dr Bloomfield ran through a World Health Organization summary about the current evidence of transmission of COVID-19.

For symptomatic people, it reinforces that COVID-19 is primarily transferred from symptomatic people to close contacts via respiratory droplets, via direct contact with each other or by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. 

It seems most people are most infectious in the early part of the infection.

The average time for developing symptoms after exposure is 5 – 6 days. 
During the period some people can be contagious, however that transmission is also though direct contact with people or droplet exposure.

People may be infectious for 1-3 days before any symptoms.

Asymptomatic lab case is a person confirmed to have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. There are very few cases of people who are truly asymptomatic, but this does not exclude this possibility of transmission.

At all times, it’s crucial to practice physical distancing; cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene.

Dr Bloomfield told media that we have plenty of space in our hospitals as preparations continue.

The first choice is always going to be to use existing hospital space. For example, Hutt Valley DHB has opened up an ICU, previously being used as office space, for spill over. 

There was the primary care cash injection yesterday to assist with prep and delivery of COVID-19 specific activities and ensuring revenue streams – patient c-opayments and ACC copayments have dropped considerably

He said the flu vaccine campaign is currently focussed on getting high priority groups vaccinated first.

Dr Bloomfield reassured the media week are not having to repurpose ventilators. There are 533 in the public health system and we are working to access some int eh private sector too.

In addition, we are finalising an order for new ventilators from overseas.

Dr Bloomfield said he’s hope front line health care workers wouldn’t need to use their own PPE - guidance is clear and we have made sure there is enough PPE on the front line and in hospitals, especially in these situations

We have very good stocks and supplies coming, however he stressed nothing is an infinite resource, and PPE must be used safely and wisely.

On testing, Dr Bloomfield reiterated his confidence in clinicians at the frontline makng the assessments.

He said testing criteria has been widened this week –because we want to be testing and finding these cases but he didn’t want to second guess clinicians assessing people

One area Dr Bloomfield said he’s heard there were concerns about was with swabs – but he said we have plenty; we need to ensure the distribution works, and they get to where they’re needed.

Dr Bloomfield rejected the suggestion we should be testing up to capacity and instead said we have increased our capacity and our capacity is now among the leading countries in the world per capita. 

He said we need to keep that capacity ahead of testing levels as we want to use some of it for surveillance to help inform decisions around the alert levels

Our testing has continued to increase – two weeks ago, there wasn’t as much infection in the country or as many close contact in the country. We have very good capacity around the country and we’re not reliant on one supplier.

Speakers:

  • Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management – update on Covid-19 national response
  • Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health – health update

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