Fourteen new cases take COVID-19 account to 53 in New Zealand

Fourteen new cases take COVID-19 account to 53 in New Zealand

Staff Reporter
Wellington, March 21, 2020




Fourteen cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the past 24 hours in New Zealand.

They are from Wellington region (4) Taranaki (1), Auckland (3), Waikato (1), Taupo (1), Manawatu (2) and Nelson (2).

The total number of cases today is 53 confirmed and four probable.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that most of these cases are travel-related but in at least two instances, no link to overseas travel has been ascertained.

“We are continuing to investigate. At this point we cannot rule out a risk of community transmission on these cases,” he said.

Details for each of these cases will be on the Ministry of Health website as soon as they are finalised. The website will continue to be updated as fuller information is received, he said.

Community transmission likely

‘We always knew cases apparently not linked to imported cases would happen and we are prepared.

It is more important now than ever that we continue with our efforts to trace and track individuals who may have been in contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases,” Dr Bloomfield said.

He said that physical distancing is fundamental as collective response and asked all New Zealanders to conscientiously play their part in following the guidelines relating to social contact and the ban on large gatherings, which can be found on the Ministry’s website.

The number of new cases is in line with what we have seen in the past few days.

“Around 1500 tests were processed yesterday. Three of the confirmed cases are in hospital. A man in his 60s is in Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown, a woman is in hospital in Nelson and another in North Shore Hospital. All three are stable,” Dr Bloomfield said.

Cruise ship passengers affected

An Australian cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, which left New Zealand five days ago, has had three Australian passengers and one crew member test positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health is in the process of contacting the 56 New Zealanders who were on board the ship, which includes 28 who have returned to New Zealand.

Dr Bloomfield said that these people would be covered by the requirement since March 15, 2020 for all travellers returning to New Zealand to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

“They are now considered as close contacts and are being followed up daily by health officials,” he said. Details of the movement of that ship and the Celebrity Solstice, which had a confirmed COVID-19 case of a New Zealander on board can be found at Update on Ruby Princess and Celebrity Solstice cruises.

Support to the concerned

This weekend is the first for the many people in self-isolation.

“It is important to remember that doesn’t mean social isolation. It is really important for mental wellbeing to stay connected to people. There are lots of ways to reach out to people by phone, social media, or online contact. Talking to people and checking in on others keeps us all connected and that is more important than ever. There is good information about this and other guidelines related to COVID-19 on the Ministry website which is frequently updated,” Dr Bloomfield said.

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