Check in here for the key, verified facts on how New Zealand is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
1:00pm Monday 27 April - day 33 of lockdown, our last day at alert level 4
Today there are 5 new cases.
One person has died, a woman in her 90s who was a resident at St Margarets Rest Home in Auckland. This brings our total number of deaths to 19.
The total number of cases in New Zealand is 1469, which is one less than yesterday. This is because 6 cases which were previously considered probable cases have been reclassified as either under investigation or not a case.
Out of this total, 1122 are confirmed cases and the rest are probable. New Zealand decided to report both confirmed and probable cases, whereas many other countries, including Australia, only report their confirmed cases.
There are 7 people in hospital, including one in intensive care.
38 people have recovered, bringing our total number of recovered cases to 1180. Around 80% of cases are now recovered.
Yesterday there were 2939 tests completed. There have been 123,920 tests done in total.
At 11.59 tonight we move to alert level 3. For a breakdown of what each alert level looks like, click here.
The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says “through our cumulative actions we have avoided the worst”. Projections showed we could have seen as many as 1000 new cases a day without lockdown measures.
“We will never know what would have actually happened without our level 4 restrictions, but we can look overseas and see that this devastating scenario has played out,” she says.
The Prime Minister says our data shows lockdown has been successful:
- Testing has grown to a processing capacity of up to 8000 per day, giving us some of the highest testing per capita in the world.
- Only a low percentage of tests returned positive results - last week only 0.05% of tests were positive, giving strong evidence that there is not undetected widespread transmission.
- Covid-19 normally has a transmission rate of 2.5 people, meaning each case passes the virus on to 2.5 other people. Our transmission rate has dropped to 0.4.
- Our case numbers have been in the single digits.
She says the numbers are “incredible, and it’s thanks to the sacrifices that every single New Zealander has made.”
We will be at level 3 for two weeks before a decision is made on whether we move to level 2.
“We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us and cause a new wave of deaths.
To succeed “we must hunt down the last few cases of the virus,” the Prime Minister says.
“This is like looking for a needle in a haystack and we need your help to finish the job we have started.”
Today is the last day of the daily joint press conference with the Prime Minister and Dr Ashley Bloomfield. The Ministry of Health will continue to hold daily 1pm updates and the Prime Minister and other government representatives will continue to front media briefings every day, but they will be held separately.
Jacinda Ardern took the opportunity to thank Dr Bloomfield, saying it had been “ a real honour.”
“I consider New Zealand to be very lucky to have a public servant of Dr Bloomfield’s character.”
1:00pm Sunday 26 April
There are 9 new cases today. The total number of cases in New Zealand is 1470.
All of today’s new cases are linked to either known clusters or confirmed cases.
There are no additional deaths.
There are seven people in hospital, including one in intensive care.
24 people have recovered, bringing our total number of recovered cases to 1142.
The Director-General General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in a statement that vigilance remains crucial as we prepare to move to Alert Level 3 on Tuesday.
"Even though all these new cases are linked to existing community-based cases or clusters, or are a result of overseas travel, nine cases highlights the need for everybody to maintain a high level of vigilance in Level 4 and as we move to Level 3,” said Dr Bloomfield.
There were 5,966 tests completed yesterday. In total 120,981 tests have been done.
1:00pm Anzac Day, Saturday 25 April
There are 5 new cases today, the same number as yesterday. New Zealand’s total number of cases is 1461.
Four of the cases are linked to known clusters. One case is under investigation.
A woman in her 70s died last night at Waitakere Hospital. New Zealand’s total number of Covid-19 deaths is now 18. The woman was a resident of CHT St Margarets Hospital and Rest Home. She is the second person from CHT St Margarets to have died from the virus.
There are 7 people in hospital, with one of those in intensive care.
23 more people have recovered, bringing our total number of recovered cases to 1118.
77 per cent of all confirmed and probable cases are now recovered.
A cluster connected to a Wellington wedding is now regarded as closed. It has been 28 days (two incubation periods) since an infection has been linked to this cluster. The Ministry of Health said more clusters are expected to be closed in the coming days.
There were 6,777 tests done yesterday. 115,015 tests have been carried out in total.
The Ministry of Health has launched the "Pass on the Aroha" social media campaign to thank frontline and disability health workers.
1:00pm, Friday 24 April
There are 5 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1456.
A man in his 60s has died. He was a resident of Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch, with underlying health conditions. He is the tenth person from the Rosewood cluster to die.
30 people have recovered, bringing our total number of recovered cases to 1095.
There are 8 people in hospital, with one of those in intensive care units.
There are still 16 significant clusters.
Yesterday there were a record number of tests, at 6961. In total 108,238 tests have been done.
30,000 new applications for the Job Seeker benefit have been made since March 20th.
“This is a distressing time for those people,” says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
But he adds this is less than 1% of our total population.
56 businesses have been told to pay back the wage subsidy to the government, after investigations revealed they should not have requested the money. They now must pay back a total of $1.25 million.
A team of 104 experts and investigators are working on the audit process. So far 292 allegations about misuse of the scheme have been received, and 2435 random and targeted audits have been done.
$10.3 billion has been paid out so far under the wage subsidy to over 1.6 million New Zealanders.
“We know the vast majority of business owners would access the scheme as we intended it, to protect jobs, support workers’ wages and stay connected during the lockdown,” says the Finance Minister.
“It's great to see these 99 percent of business owners doing right by their workers. We also have a duty to all New Zealanders to make sure taxpayer money is going where it is intended.”
1:00pm, Thursday 23 April
Two more people have died. A woman in her 60s in Dunedin with an underlying health condition, and a man in his 70s who was part of the Christchurch Rosewood Rest Home cluster.
There are 3 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1451.
Interestingly, our total number is the same as yesterday’s total. This is because three of the cases that were reported yesterday had been New Zealanders recently returned from Uruguay, and it’s not clear whether Uruguay had already reported these cases to the World Health Organisation.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they are “checking whether they have already been reported to the WHO to make sure the totals are accurate.”
There are 8 people in hospital, with one of those in an intensive care unit.
29 people have recovered, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 1065.
There are still 16 significant clusters.
Yesterday there were a record number of tests done at 6480. Given there are only three new cases, this means less than 0.05% of yesterday’s tests were positive.
In total 101,277 tests have been done.
Here’s what health services will be open under alert level 3:
- Hospitals remain open for emergency and acute care. Some elective surgeries and radiology will be provided
- GPs will be open but will be doing virtual consultations as much as possible
- Pharmacies will remain open
- Dental services may provide urgent appointments but not routine dental care
- Midwives will be able to operate both virtually and face to face
- Physiotherapy, optometry and podiatry will be have face-to-face appointments only for urgent cases
- Community mental health services will be provided by phone or virtually
- Visitors to aged care facilities will only be allowed for palliative or compassionate reasons (e.g. if a resident at an aged care facility is about to die, then on a case-by-case basis, family may be allowed to visit the rest home for their final moments).
Hunting can go ahead under alert level 3, the Prime Minister has clarified - as long as you stay in your region and your bubble, and as long as you don’t run the risk of needing rescue. This means no quad bikes or off-road motorbikes. DOC land is totally closed for hunting and tramping.
“We know in many parts of New Zealand, hunting is part of providing food for many families and whānau,” says the Prime Minister.
But duck hunting season, which was due to begin on May 2nd, won’t start until the second weekend of alert level 2. The season will be extended to make up for the delay.
12:30pm, Thursday 23 April
The government has announced a $50 million support package for the media sector.
“It’s well-known the media sector has been facing challenges well before Covid-19, but the disruption has compounded the difficulties with significant losses of advertising,” says Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi.
The key points are:
- the government will put a pause on the transmission fees media broadcasters normally need to pay them
- And the government will pay upfront for news subscriptions and encourage other agencies to increase their subscriptions to paid news services.
“Without government intervention, we risk losing the range of skills and perspectives which provide important independent news and information that New Zealanders rely on, especially at times like these.”
The package includes:
- The government paying 100 percent of AM, FM and TV transmission fees for 6 months (which are usually paid by broadcasters)
- An 80 percent reduction in NZ on Air contribution fees for the 2020-2021 year
- The government will buy news media subscriptions in advance, and encourage other government agencies to increase their news subscriptions.
- The ability for targeted assistance for media companies
This is the first of two announcements on support for the media sector.
A future announcement will address further support to retain journalists, support for plurality (keeping more than one dominant media channel or newspaper) and making sure regulation is suitable.
Minister Faafoi acknowledged the work of the media in “keeping New Zealanders up to date with news and important information during this time of crisis. It has certainly been appreciated by the public.”
1:00pm, Wednesday 22 April - Day 28 of lockdown
There are 6 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1451.
A woman in her 80s has died. She was a resident of Rosewood Aged Residential Care facility who was transferred to Burwood Hospital. She had underlying health conditions.
“Every person we lose to Covid-19 is a tragedy,” says Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Our total number of recovered cases is 1036.
There are 11 people in hospital, with two of those in intensive care units, with none in a critical condition.
There are still 16 significant clusters.
Yesterday there were a record number of tests, at 5289. In total 94,797 tests have been done.
The Prime Minister has thanked cleaners for being essential workers. She says she’s had many letters during lockdown praising cleaners for being our “first line of defence” against Covid-19.
“These are our essential workers and I hope we continue to recognise them as that, long after this pandemic has passed. Thank you for keeping us safe.”
1:00pm, Tuesday 21 April - Day 27 of lockdown
There are 5 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1445.
A woman in her 70s has died. She was one of six residents from St Margarets Hospital and Rest Home in Te Atatu in Auckland who was transferred to Waitakere Hospital. She had an underlying health condition.
Today our number of new recovered cases is 32. Our total number of recovered cases is 1006.
There are 12 people in hospital, with three of those in intensive care units, with none in a critical condition.
Yesterday there were 3203 tests. In total 89,503 tests have been done.
The Education Minister Chris Hipkins has made clear that when schools open at level 3 next Tuesday, only children who need to attend should do so.
“Children who can stay home should stay home. At risk students and staff should also stay home.”
He says most children and young people will continue distance learning.
The Education Minister says 400,000 people will be going to work under alert level 3. “Just as we need to keep them safe, we’re putting in place measures to keep children and teachers safe.”
Because the director-general of health is confident there is no widespread undetected community transmission, the Education Minister says, “It is safe from a public health perspective to have a group of children learning together”.
Children who do attend early childcare centres or schools will be in managed groups that limit the number of people they have contact with.
“Parents can have confidence that the proposed approach is designed to keep children and their families and their teachers safe.”
He says it’s important parents “fully support this approach by doing their bit”, by keeping children home if possible, definitely keeping them home if they are sick, strictly keeping to your bubble outside of school and practicing good hygiene.
The numbers of educational-support materials reaching households so far is:
- 6700 internet routers to households, mainly to those with students at NCEA level in deciles 1-3
- 10,000 devices distributed by schools to students
- 80,000 paper education packs in English, and 10,000 packs in Māori
- 649,000 people have watched the learning TV channels during the first 3 days they were available
4:00pm, Monday 20 April - Day 26 of lockdown
New Zealand will move to alert level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday April 27, one week from today.
We will be at alert level 3 for two weeks, and then will be reviewed.
The Prime Minister says the next week allows businesses to prepare. “This is not an early move out of alerts, simply a move of preparation.”
She says level 3 is like a “recovery room that has many restrictions”.
It is very similar to level 4 but allows more economic activity like construction and forestry, “but it does not allow more social activity.”
“We need to get this next phase right, the worst thing we can do for our country is to yoyo between levels.”
Over the next week, businesses will be allowed to prepare to open, for example owners entering premises to receive stock, or schools being accessed for cleaning and maintenance. But social distancing at bubbles must be maintained.
The key messages of level 3 are:
- Stay home unless you are at work, school, exercising or getting essentials
- Work and learn from home if you can
- Make your business Covid-19 safe
- Your bubble can be slightly expanded by a few people
- Wash your hands often with soap
- If you're sick, stay at home and quickly get advice from a GP or healthline. “All of our success relies on knowing when you get unwell,” says the Prime Minister. “There is no stigma in getting Covid-19”
Schools and early learning centres are able to reopen for a teacher-only day on April 28, and those who need to attend will be able to from April 29.
This means this weekend, which is ANZAC weekend, will still be under level 4. The Prime Minister says people need to stay home and “reflect on the amazing sacrifices of our forebears.”
“Decades ago they came together in the most testing of circumstances half a world away and helped forge who we are today. It was a very very different battle than the one we are in now, but the character of who we are as a country remains exactly the same.”
“So please stay strong, stay home, be kind and let’s finish what we started.”
New Zealand has done what very few countries have been able to do, says the Prime Minister, “we have stopped a wave of devastation.”
We have one of the highest testing rates in the world, and are among the countries with the lowest cases per 100,000 people.
Our transmission rate - the number of other people that each person passes the virus on to - is 0.48, less than half a person each. The overseas average is 2.5 people.
One of the main factors in the decision to go to level 3 is that the director general of health is confident there is no widespread undetected community transmission.
Only eight cases, out of our total of 1440, are being considered as community transmission, where there is no obvious connection to any other case.
The Prime Minister says while numbers of deaths have been small, “we cannot forget that every number is someone's father, someone's mum or a friend.”
“You have sacrificed too much for us to lose those gains now, let's lock them in, not to go backwards.”
1:00pm, Monday 20 April - Day 26 of lockdown
There are 9 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1440. There are no further deaths.
Today our number of new recovered cases is 62. Our total number of recovered cases is 974.
There are 14 people in hospital, with three of those in intensive care units, including two in a critical condition.
Yesterday there were 3081 tests. In total 86,305 tests have been done.
The Prime Minister will be announcing at 4pm today whether we will go to alert level 3 this week.
1:00pm, Sunday 19 April - Day 25 of lockdown
There are 9 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1431.
All of the 9 new cases are linked to previously confirmed cases.
A death that occurred in Invercargill on Tuesday last week is now being treated as Covid-related.
Today our number of new recovered cases is 45. Our total number of recovered cases is 912.
There are 18 people in hospital, with three of those in intensive care units, including two in a critical condition.
Yesterday there were 4146 tests. In total 83,224 tests have been done.
The Prime Minister says high levels of testing and contact tracing will be the key priorities moving forward.
“If you even have a sniffle or the slightest sore throat, get a test, the sooner we get on top of knowing that someone has the symptoms of Covid, the more successful our contact tracing will be.”
She says New Zealanders need to think about all their movements “as if we may come and interview you tomorrow and try and find out who you've been with.”
“We essentially have to do forensic interviews with people to find out where they have been , who they've been in contact with, and try and trace Covid-19.”
1:00pm, Saturday 18 April - Day 24 of lockdown
There are 13 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1422. There are no further deaths.
Today our number of new recovered cases is 51. Our total number of recovered cases is 867.
There are 20 people in hospital, with three of those in intensive care units, including two in a critical condition.
Yesterday was a new record for testing with 4,677 tests carried out. In total 79,078 tests have been done.
Covid-19 testing is being conducted at supermarkets around the country.
"Targeted testing to help determine whether there is any undetected community transmission has taken place in Queenstown, Waikato, Canterbury, and is today taking place in Auckland," a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.
So far all tests have returned a negative result.
A Whanganui man has been sent to prison for a month for breaching the lockdown laws six times.
Since the lockdown there have been 2078 breaches of the Civil Defence Emergency Act or the Health Act.
1pm, Friday 17 April - Day 23 of lockdown
There have been two further deaths from Covid-19, bringing our total number of deaths to 11.
They were a man in his 90s at Waikato Hospital, connected to the Matamata cluster, and a woman in her 80s who died in Burwood Hospital.
Neither of their families were able to be with them in hospital when they died, however staff members were with them.
This means there have now been 7 deaths from the cluster at the Rosewood rest home in Christchurch.
There are 8 new cases today, bringing New Zealand’s total number of cases to 1409.
Today our number of new recovered cases is 46. Our total number of recovered cases is 816.
There are 14 people in hospital, with three of those in intensive care units, two in a critical condition.
Yesterday there were 4241 tests carried out. In total 74,401 tests have been done.
The criteria for if you qualify for a test has been expanded to include anyone with respiratory symptoms.
Funding has been announced today for New Zealand researchers to co-lead three internationally significant trials in the fight against Covid-19.
The Finance Minister Grant Robertson is reminding New Zealanders that just because information has been released about what level 3 will look like, it does not mean we should already be thinking like we are out of lockdown.
“It is not a return to pre-Covid days,” he says.