No new cases of Covid-19; total sits on 1499

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Ministry of Health Covid-19 update

May 18, 2020

There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today.

This means New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases remains at 1499 of which 1149 are confirmed cases of Covid-19.

We have 1433 people reported as having recovered from Covid-19, no change from yesterday. This is 96 per cent of all confirmed and probable cases.

Again today there are two people receiving hospital-level care for Covid-19 – one each in Auckland and Middlemore hospitals. Neither of these patients is in ICU.

We still have 16 significant clusters.

There are no additional deaths to report.

The total number of tests completed to date is 230,718.

World Health Assembly
Tonight the Director-General of Health will lead the New Zealand delegation at the 2020 World Heath Assembly.

This year the Assembly is being held virtually and will focus on Covid-19. The entire meeting will be live streamed for anyone who wants to view it.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros, on his thoughts for the future efforts around Covid-19 globally, as well as hearing from other countries on the important themes in their responses both to date and in the future,” says Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

The Minister of Health Dr David Clark will deliver the New Zealand country statement via video.

While fulfilling the responsibility as lead of the delegation Dr Bloomfield is not expecting to have a speaking part given the nature of this virtual meeting.  However, if there is something relevant that Member States need to speak to or vote on, he may offer some remarks.

New Zealand is co-sponsoring a resolution on Covid-19. The purpose of the resolution is to agree, at the high level, future areas of work specific to Covid-19 that Member States, the WHO and other organisations should deliver in unity, such as fair access to vaccines.

“At a time of global crisis around a public health issue, it is critical that countries come together, and the Covid-19 resolution aims to do exactly that. Such solidarity will ensure we respond collectively to global situations like a pandemic, which it is in every country’s interests to do.

“This will also include reference to the review of the pandemic. I will note that after every global health emergency it is common practice for there to be a review. This happened after Ebola and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic for example. The findings from these reviews help improve how countries respond both from a domestic and international cooperation perspective. They also help WHO develop new technical guidance and support.”

There is general agreement amongst WHO members on the issues outlined in the resolution and it is expected to be adopted unanimously.

Religious and faith-based gatherings
At today’s media conference, Dr Bloomfield also spoke briefly on church and faith-based gatherings.

“There has been fantastic support from churches and faith based organisations right through Levels 4 and 3 and they have been incredibly supportive because they have been wanting to help protect all New Zealanders.

“I know many people, including those of faith, want to move as quickly as possible to increase the size of these gatherings; I know how important it is for people to be able to practise their faith together.

“The policy intent for gatherings is clear in the Alert Level 2 framework. This includes that the current maximum number of people who can gather is currently 10 and this applies to both private and public gatherings including church and faith based ones.    This number is one of the specific issues being reconsidered by Cabinet next Monday.”