RNZ, Wellington, April 1, 2020
The total number of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand has risen to 708, with 61 confirmed and probable cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry has confirmed.
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Health Ministry Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said that there are 47 new confirmed cases and 14 new probable cases. Fourteen people are in hospital – two are in intensive care but are stable. 82 people have now recovered from the coronavirus. There have been no further deaths.
New guide for practitioners
Dr McElnay said that a new case definition would be issued today as a guide for clinical practitioners.
The new guidelines say those with respiratory symptoms consistent with Covid-19 should be considered for testing, “regardless of travel history or contact with a confirmed case.”
“But we do rely on clinical judgement at all times for any assessment of any patient. This would result in more testing, and health authorities are prepared for that,” she said.
“Our testing capacity is currently 3700 tests, and we are currently doing an average of 1843 tests per day, based over the last seven days,” she said.
More tests next week
By the end of next week, there will be 10 laboratories carrying out tests, up from eight currently, and the Health Ministry hoped to raise testing capacity to 5000 tests.
Dr McElnay said that while the lower reported numbers looked encouraging, they still expect cases to rise in the next few days.
She said that broadening of Case Definition meant numbers were likely to rise.
“It is much to early to read into those tests,” she said.
She said that there was still a strong link to overseas travel and links to confirmed cases. Community transmission was estimated to be about 1%
“However we continue to focus on getting better information on the data for community transmission,” Dr McElnay said.
She said that the 1% community transmission figure was not concrete, as testing ramped up and more information was gathered.
The Health Ministry is developing a surveillance plan to monitor community transmission. Labs for testing are increasing from eight to 10 and will be in place by the end of next week.
Civil Defence Director Sarah Stuart-Black said that 57 people were moved yesterday from managed isolation in Auckland through Wellington to Christchurch.
She said that there would be a charted regional flight this afternoon, and more were expected in the next few days.
All of the people on those flights were getting health checks before flying and going into self-isolation after they got home.
Ms Stuart-Black said that the State of National Emergency could be extended each week, and reminded people that this was distinct from the alert level.
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