MINISTRY OF HEALTH UPDATE
April 4, 2020
Today there are 52 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 30 new probable cases. There are no additional deaths to report.
There are now 127 reported cases which we can confirm have recovered.
The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 950, 82 more than yesterday.
We now have three fewer people in hospital with Covid-19. Today there are 10 in hospital, including one person in Wellington in ICU. All inpatients are in a stable condition.
From our lab numbers, we can report a 7-day rolling average of tests at 2264 per day. Yesterday we did the highest number of tests we have completed in a single day – 3631. The total of lab tests to date is 33,116. We now have capacity for 6271 tests a day.
We are continuing to grow the supply of both swabs and the components used by labs to process tests.
Altogether, we have more than 100,000 nasal and throat swabs in stock and around 37,000 lab test kit componentry.
There is high demand for nasal swabs and our local manufacturer is ramping up production, with 300,000 swabs due in the next three to four weeks.
For those cases we have information on, we are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel (47 per cent), as well as links to confirmed cases within New Zealand (34 per cent) and community transmission (1 per cent).
Another 17 per cent of cases continue to be investigated. We fully expect that some of those will transpire to be community transmission once other alternatives such as overseas travel or link with a confirmed or probable case have been excluded.
We have 10 significant clusters – that is, more than 10 people infected from a single source.
More details are available on our website.
Issuing of notice under s 70(1)(f) of the Health Act 1956
Yesterday the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield issued a notice under s 70(1)(f) of the Health Act 1956.
The notice provides greater clarity around self-isolation for the public and also greater clarity for police about enforcement.
To date there has been a high level of compliance with self-isolation.
The notice sets out clearly the requirements for everyone in New Zealand to self-isolate where they were when we began lock-down, except for essential personal movements.
We know that good compliance with these requirements will protect New Zealand from Covid-19 and we know that staying home saves lives.
For the small number of people not following this guidance we need to have appropriate processes in place to deal with that. This Health Act notice gives Police clear guidance on managing those people those who aren’t doing what they’re supposed to.
The notice is available here:
Technical Advisory Group
The Technical Advisory Group met yesterday to provide further advice.
The Technical Advisory Group updated the definition of a case of Covid-19 to separate respiratory symptoms from any travel history or known contact with a confirmed or probable case.
Testing will now be available to people with respiratory problems suggestive of Covid-19 regardless of travel history or contact with a confirmed or probable case and fever is no longer a requirement.
The Technical Advisory Group also considered and recommended no change to the recovery definition – an individual with Covid-19 can be released from isolation when at least 10 days has passed since the onset of symptoms and at least 48 hours of being symptom free.
A negative test result isn’t required for an individual in isolation at home, although a test could be at the discretion of the clinician where the patient has been in hospital.
The Ministry is watching very closely advice from the WHO and CDC around whether or not people should wear face masks in public to limit spread of the virus from people who are infected but not showing symptoms.
The best current advice is that basic hygiene measures such as frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and sneeze and cough etiquette remain the mainstay in our defence against Covid-19.
We know there are ways in which wearing a mask could be helpful and also ways in which it could be harmful.
In many countries individuals who are unwell often wear a mask when they go out. There is evidence that can be good practice particularly for protecting others.
However, there is also some evidence that wearing a mask can also do harm such as when it leads to people touching their face more often due to discomfort. That can increase the risk of contamination from your hand and wearing a mask can give a false sense of security.
A reminder that Healthline continues to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Healthline has done a considerable amount of work to increase capacity of their services which has reduced wait times – now on average 5 minutes.
Healthline continues to be a popular service for people concerned about their health.
Both Healthline and many primary care providers report that many people with other health issues are leaving it too long to see a doctor or call Healthline because they are concerned that the focus should be on Covid -19.
We do have capacity to provide appropriate health care so people with health issues should act sooner rather than later. Continue to contact your GP, continue to ring Healthline 0800 611 116.