Ministry of Health Covid-19 update
May 20, 2020
Today there are no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
That means New Zealand’s total number of confirmed cases remains at 1153.
Our combined total of confirmed and probable cases remains at 1503.
We have 1447 people who have recovered from Covid-19, an increase of five on yesterday. That is 96 per cent of all confirmed and probable cases.
There are no additional deaths to report.
There is one person with Covid-19 receiving hospital-level care – they are in Middlemore hospital and they are not in the ICU.
Yesterday our laboratories completed 4882 tests. The total number of tests completed to date is 238,725.
Contact tracing app
The Ministry of Health has formally launched its contact tracing app early this morning.
It is called NZ Covid Tracer and its available on both Google and Apple online stores.
It is like a digital diary that you can use by scanning QR codes at locations you visit to support contact tracing in New Zealand.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield encouraged Kiwis to download the app.
“Our key public health controls are to identify, trace, test and isolate any Covid-19 cases. The faster we can do these steps the less likely we are to get spread.”
Dr Bloomfield said he understood that people may be concerned about sharing information about where they have been.
“To be clear, the personal information and contact details you provide through NZ Covid Tracer are provided to our national contact tracing centre so we can quickly get in touch if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has Covid-19.
“Any information you decide to record through NZ Covid Tracer – in other words, the locations you sign into – is stored securely on your phone and isn’t shared with contact tracers unless you choose to do so.
“In either case, the personal information you share with us is held for public health purposes only and will not be used for enforcement,” Dr Bloomfield said.
If a person chooses to release their information, it can then be used to help identify where they have been and who other potential contacts could be.
The Ministry of Health has been encouraged by the interest in the app already. At midday there were more than 92,000 registrations on the app.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is in the process of contacting 800,000 businesses in NZ with information about the app and how businesses can generate the QR codes able to be read by cellphones and scanned by people visiting that location.
MBIE have advised 1000 businesses have created posters, and they are receiving new registrations at around 10 per minute.
At this point the app does not replace, but complements, other actions taken by businesses to record who has visited their premises.
There have been a few wrinkles with downloads and running the app – primarily on some Android devices and the team has been working this morning to get those ironed out.
The Ministry expects to offer some additional functions with the app in June, including as is the case in Australia and Singapore with their app, the ability to receive an alert if someone has been in the same location at the same time as someone who has subsequently tested positive to Covid-19.
World Health Assembly
The World Health Assembly finished very early this morning.
It was very good news that the Covid-19 resolution was agreed – it had over 140 countries co-sponsoring it, which represents a story of international consensus.
The WHO’s Covid-19 independent evaluation will review experience gained and lessons learned and make recommendations to improve national and global pandemic preparedness and response.
New Zealand is particularly interested in work around vaccines and supply chain, for example, and we are expecting to be active in working alongside our neighbours in the Pacific on these issues too.