We have done well so far but too early to lift lockdown

We have done well so far but too early to lift lockdown

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 5, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the media conference today (Courtesy: Getty Images)

The number of Coronavirus cases in New Zealand has crossed the 1000 mark but early action of lockdown has arrested the figure from ballooning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

She defended the government’s decision to declare (on March 25, 2020), a State of Emergency, issue the Epidemic Notice and place the country on Alert 4, which shutdown most businesses and asking people to ‘Stay Safe, Stay at Home.’

Today’s tally is 1039 confirmed and probable cases, a rise of 89 cases overnight. Fifteen persons are in various hospitals and 156 persons have recovered.

Widespread arrested

Ms Ardern told the media conference today that a scenario presented to her by Economist Rodney Jones had said that there would be 4000 Covid-19 cases by this day (April 5, 2020) taking into account the speed with which the virus spread.

“Today we have about 3000 less cases because of the decisive action taken by us eleven days ago. Those 3000 fewer cases shows the difference that cumulative action can make. Three thousand fewer people sick with Covid-19, 3000 fewer people passing the virus onto others and into others. I thank New Zealanders for their cooperation and for the sacrifices that they have made to fight against Covid-19,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that Police are patrolling the streets, supermarkets and other places where essential services are being made available.

“We can and we must continue to break the chain of transmission. The Police will continue to check and ensure compliance of lockdown rules. Compliance overall has been generally strong, except for a few exceptions. There are still some who I would charitably describe as ‘idiots.’

Violator goes to court

“A 38-year-old Christchurch man arrested last night after being seen on a video online coughing at people in a supermarket, I include in that description. He will appear in court tomorrow charged with endangering life by criminal nuisance and obstruction of an officer of health,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that she was not in favour of continuing the lockdown, although a decision on this will depend on whether the virus is being contained or number of cases shows a declining trend.

“People have lost jobs. Businesses are suffering. We are likely to see long term effects of Coronavirus globally. My request is to plan to operate your businesses at various levels and hold on to your people; use the government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme,” she said.

Exit Plan

She said that Ministers and senior officials are talking about a possible exit plan but there are a number of factors that should be studied- including community transmission and contact tracing.

“All that information will tell us whether or not we have got control back of Covid-19 in New Zealand and whether we are in a position to move to different elite levels,” Ms Ardern said.

Earlier, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said New Zealand now has ample capacity to conduct tests and that as of date 36,209 tests have been carried out.

Case details

“We are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel (45%), as well as links to confirmed cases within New Zealand (36%) including those in clusters we already know about and community transmission (1%). There is still a proportion of cases where the transmission type continues to be investigated – around 18% as at today,” he said.

Dr Bloomfield said that there are 12 significant clusters.

The clusters with the highest number of associated cases remains the same as yesterday:  the wedding in Bluff (58), the event in Matamata (56) and the Marist College cluster in Auckland (66). 

The ethnicity breakdown of the confirmed cases is European 74%, Asian 8.3%, Maori 7.6% and Pacific 3.3%.

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