COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) update, 3 March

News article

03 March 2020


Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield addressed media at today’s stand up alongside Dr Michelle Balm, the clinical leader for infection services at Capital & Coast DHB.

  • Dr Bloomfield told media New Zealand still has the one case of COVID-19 and the patient is in Auckland City Hospital, and is stable and improving.
  • He also briefly updated the situation at the Whangaparâoa Reception Centre – all six New Zealanders in quarantine are due to have their quarantine period lifted on Thursday. All are in good spirits and well.
  • Dr Balm told media all DHBs have been preparing for the past few weeks for cases of COVID-19. At this stage, because there haven’t been cases in the region, they’ve been focusing on early identification.
  • She said if people are concerned and perhaps meet the case definition, they’d be seen by either a primary physician or emergency department physician and have a risk assessment.
  • Dr Balm says every case is discussed with the Medical Officer of Health. All tests are discussed with the clinical microbiologist to ensure DHBs are testing the right people.
  • Dr Balm told media they are closely following the Ministry’s broad case definition, which is also being adapted to meet the evolving situation nationally and globally.
  • Dr Balm assured media there is capacity to test hundreds of patients a day around NZ and that hospitals do not want to miss their region’s first COVID-19 case.
  • She said tests aren’t being rationed – but DHBs do not want to test asymptomatic people because it’s more effective to test those who are showing symptoms.
  • Dr Bloomfield said there have now been 155 negative tests; 31 under investigation and 1 confirmed case.
  • Of the two test results due back today, one has returned negative. Update: since the media stand-up, the second result has returned negative.
  • Dr Bloomfield says he convened a teleconference this morning with DHBs to ensure they’re in communication with their aged and residential care providers.

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