New Zealand is now at Level 3 to stop and eradicate COVID-19.

Full detail of what Alert Level 3 entails can be found at the Government’s COVID19.govt.nz website.

PM and Finance Minister Update

  • Confirmed 12 had now fully recovered, and this number was likely to increase.
  • Staying at home will save lives and is key to the response at alert level 4.
  • “reduce contact, reduce risk, reduce the spread.”
  • A cluster of cases that came form one conference would give some insight to why it was essential to reduce contact
  • More updates on essential services tomorrow. But to start, there had to be as many businesses shut down as possible.
  • Kiwis had to be able to access the necessities of life .”If you you are not doing those things, we are asking you to close.”
  • Temporary visas are automatically extended to late September, and confirmation will be emailed to all visa holders
  • In regards to people having trouble travelling home, the PM said: “We will work calmly and sensibly through all of those [travel issues] as we go.”
  • Finance Minister Grant Robertson said a mortgage holiday scheme would be offered by retail banks. He said there will be a “six month mortgage repayment holiday to homeowners whose incomes have been affected by covid-19”.
  • Asking businesses to please keep paying their bills. He said businesses that are in a position to do so should continue to pay other businesses.
  • 117,273 applications for the wage subsidy scheme and 41,505 had been approved
  • Package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been affected by the economic disruption from COVID-19. The Government and the banks will implement a $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy through this unprecedented time.
  • The Reserve Bank has agreed to help banks put this in place with appropriate capital rules. In addition, it has decided to reduce banks ‘core funding ratios’ from 75 percent to 50 percent, further helping banks to make credit available.
  • The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress on solvent small and medium-sized firms affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates. The Government will carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be carried by the banks.
  • Ardern said returning Kiwis continues to be a risk to New Zealand but “we have to allow New Zealanders to return home, this is their home, this is their country of residence and citizenship .. we have to allow that to happen”.
  • Whether they’re students trying to return home or travellers, Ardern said they will be working through the issue to try and get them home. She said Air New Zealand has been their main link, but acknowledged that closure of transit routes has made bringing Kiwis home more difficult. 

Ministry of Health briefing:

The taskforce members speaking today will be:

  • All of Government Controller John Ombler who will update on the Covid-19 national response.
  • Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield who will update on the health sector response.
  • Secretary for Education Iona Holsted who will update on schools, tertiary institutions, Early Childhood Education centres.
  • Deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Paul Stocks who will provide an essential services update

  • From 2359 Wednesday 25 March everyone except essential services personnel MUST stay at home.
  • Physical separation but maintain social interaction. Distance yourself from other (2 metres)
  • If people don’t comply enforcement action will be taken
  • 40 new confirmed cases
  • 3 new probable cases
  • Total cases 155 cases (From now on MoH are combining confirmed and probables in daily total new figures.)
  • 12 cases recovered
  • A third of cases have a link to overseas travel
  • 4 cases community transmission, 3 in Auckland, 1 in Wairarapa
  • 900 new tests yesterday, 8300 tests completed overall.
  • 6 in hospital, none in ICU
  • 5 labs countrywide testing for the virus
  • 5 people hospitalized not in intensive care but negative pressure ventilation rooms and PPE
  • Six people at the Hereford Conference in Queenstown had now tested positive

Schools Update

  • Low internet connection in low decile areas.
  • Working on hard copy delivery to those areas
  • Secondary Schools expected to provide online learning

Business Update

  • Essentials services list to ensure self isolation, provide necessities of life, health, security, welfare
  • Updated list of essential services
  • Expect everyone to assist in self-isolation. Do not assume you are in essential services.
  • “If you are unsure about whether you are an essential service, you are probably not.”

Parliament Update

  • Speaker Trevor Mallard said the business committee had met this morning and agreed to have a special motion in Parliament tomorrow to establish a special select committee to run for four to five weeks at least, to be chaired by the Opposition leader or his nominee, and would have a majority of Opposition MPs on it.
  • It would have special powers to send for people and for papers. It will only meet remotely, and its members will not share a room.
  • There will be more time for Government ministers to answer questions tomorrow, and then an adjournment motion until April 28.
  • MPs flying around the country and interacting with the public would “not be a good thing”, and the new committee would enable the Opposition to “effectively interrogate” ministers or public servants on their actions around the pandemic.
  • Those meetings will be publicly broadcast, he said.
  • Parliament would decide tomorrow, if not today, for all select committee report backs to be deferred, and each select committee can decide to extend the period for public submissions.
  • No point having legislation back in Parliament because the legislative programme had been suspended.
  • “If Parliament is not sitting, legislation will not be progressed.”
  • Parliaments in Australia, Canada and the UK were all being suspended.
  • Legislation that was considered important, such as the Government’s second tranche of gun law reforms, were less important relative to stopping a deadly virus
  • 11 MPs on the special committee, including five National MPs, an Act MP, three Labour MPs, one NZ First MP and one Green MPs.
  • Parliament will resume on April 28, even if the lockdown was extended from the current four weeks into the end of April.

Where Can You Get Tested?

Stuff has a list of testing centres:’

Northland DHB has seven facilities set up, most of which are already open and accepting samples. These are in Whangarei, Dargaville, Kaitaia Hospital, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kawakawa, and Rawene. The centre at Dargaville is set to open on Wednesday at 8.30am.

In Auckland, the T?maki Health/White Cross medical facility was operating three at Airport Oaks Local Doctors, St Lukes White Cross, and Henderson White Cross Surgical Care. Shorecare Northcross is another facilities in Auckland. An additional seven are said to be opening in the near future.

There is a testing centre set up at Hamilton’s Claudelands Events Centre, and another at Hastings Health Centre’s old building, set up by the Hawke’s Bay DHB.

Five testing facilities have been set up by MidCentral DHB in the Tararua, Horowhenua, Manwatu, Palmerston North and Otaki regions, according to chief executive Kathryn Cook. It also had mobile testing units that could be deployed to help people having difficulty travelling to the sites.

In the Wellington region, Capital & Coast, Hutt Valley, and Wairarapa DHBs are planning to open testing centres in areas that ensure vulnerable communities with low primary care coverage have access to testing.

The former Suburban Club building in Tahunanui?, Nelson has been turned into the largest coronavirus assessment centre in the top of the South Island. People could drive in and would be screened from their car by a nursing team.

A community testing centre has opened close to Christchurch Hospital. Others would be set up “across the community” as required.

Southland DHB is also opening centres in Dunedin, Invercargill and Queenstown.

What Is an Epidemic Notice and What Does It Mean?

Stuff reports:

Ardern is likely to be the making the first step in invoking power from the Epidemic Preparedness Act, which was passed in 2006, and has never been enforced before. 

By declaring or issuing an epidemic notice, the government is enabling the use of “special powers”, which exist to curb or tackle an epidemic.

Essentially, invoking this act means most of the laws that exist in New Zealand can be amended.

… Ardern said that if community transmission continues unchecked, the health systems will be inundated and tens of thousands of New Zealanders will die. 

Wellington lawyer Graeme Edgeler explained: “In a national emergency, the rules change.”

There are three main acts that exist to give the government the power to do what is necessary – in extraordinary situations.

These acts are: The Health Act 1956, Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 and the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006.

All of these acts reference each other and can be invoked without the other, he said. 

In order for the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 to be enforced, the government has to issue a notice on the gazette, which is the the official government notice board. 

A consequence of the notice, parliament must “sit” shortly afterwards to discuss, offering members the opportunity to try and overturn the notice.

Currently, such a notice has not been gazetted, he said. 

But, parliament is believed to be sitting on Wednesday – around the same time as level four will be enforced.

There are other acts it references, such as the Immigration Act and the Parole Act. 

Covid-19 works differently to other infectious diseases, so its a case of what power do you need to use, and what do you not. 

HEALTH ACT 1956

An epidemic notice gives medical officers of health special enforcement powers, such as the power to break up a public event, to enforce isolation or even quarantine, under the Health Act.

If it needs the police to do so, it has that power. 

“You could potentially have that power from the health act by itself, but the epidemic preparedness act has the most wide ranging power,” he said. 

CIVIL DEFENCE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACT 2002

This act would more likely be invoked during a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. 

It would give authorities the power to rescue people, but also to administer funds to those who might need it – such as people rendered homeless and living in tents after the Christchurch Earthquake. 

The government needs legal authority to spend money on food, and invoking this power gives it that authority. 

“Some of those powers could potentially be helpful in a case like this,” he said.

THE IMMIGRATION ACT 2009

Temporary visa holders will receive an extension of their visa until the epidemic notice ends. 

The Government’s move to close the borders to all but citizens and residents has induced panic and confusion in many temporary visa holders.

Almost 200,000 people in New Zealand were due to have their student, visitor or work visas expire in the next six months.

GP says NZ too late in raising COVID-19 alert level: ‘Same trajectory as Italy’:

Newshub reports:

A general practitioner says the New Zealand government has acted too late in raising the country’s alert level as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpasses 100. 

Dr Michael Courtenay is among more than 67,000 people who supported a petition, started by Urgent Care Physician Dr Kelvin Ward, calling for New Zealand to go to level 4 alert to prevent the health system being overrun and “countless unnecessary deaths”. 

At the weekend, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced a four-tier alert system based on the spread of the virus and announced New Zealand was at a level two. 

On Monday, she escalated the status to a level three and said level four is imminent in 48 hours. 

With more than 40 years as a doctor behind him, Dr Courtenay says he has been extremely concerned about the time it has taken for the Government to act. 

He says there’s an “overwhelming feeling” among the medical profession that the status should have moved “without any hesitation”, but decision-makers were slow to listen to the advice from the medical fraternity.  

“I cannot under emphasise how unbelievably serious it is. You’re not going to believe how serious it’s going to get,” Dr Courtenay told Newshub. “I’m not being melodramatic, this is fact.

“We’re on the same trajectory as Italy right at this point and time, it’s doubling every three days and the government is late already making the call.” 

With 5476 now dead in Italy, the country has overtaken China in registering the most deaths from the highly-contagious virus. 

Dr Courtenay, who is the clinical lead at an Auckland practice, says there is undoubtedly community spread in New Zealand, “without any shadow of a doubt”. 

“You get a large amount of people who are going to pubs and public galleries, they spread it like wildfire with minimal symptoms.” 

He believes there is an urgency for Kiwis to take the virus seriously or risk lives being lost. 

“People are going to die unnecessarily without any doubt, we’re not playing games here. We need to wake up.”

COVID-19 – current cases

Information about current cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Last updated 4:00 pm, 24 March 2020.

We’ll be updating this page as new information is available.

Summary

  • Number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand – 155
  • Number of recovered cases – 12
  • Number of community transmission cases – 4

See below for details of Confirmed cases and Probable cases.

Confirmed cases

CaseLocationAgeGenderTravel details
142Waitemata30sFDetails to come
141New Plymouth60sFDetails to come
140Wairarapa20sFDetails to come
139Wellington64MDetails to come
138Marlborough60sMDetails to come
137Marlborough30sMDetails to come
136Auckland60sFDetails to come
135Wellington70sFDetails to come
134Wellington70sMDetails to come
133Wellington50sMDetails to come
132Hawke’s Bay70sFBarcelona via Dubai to Auckland, arrived on 18 March, flight EK448, Auckland to Napier on 19 March – flight NZ5021
131Hawke’s Bay70sMBarcelona via Dubai to Auckland, arrived on 18 March, flight EK448, Auckland to Napier on 19 March – flight NZ5021
130Wellington50sFDetails to come
129Wellington30sFDetails to come
128Wellington30sMDetails to come
127Wellington50sFDetails to come
126Wellington60sMTravelled from USA to New Zealand, arrived on 19 March, flight details to come
125Wellington60sFTravelled from USA to New Zealand, arrived on 19 March, flight details to come
124Wellington50sMDetails to come
123Nelson80sFDetails to come
122Auckland20sMDetails to come
121Dunedin30sMDubai to Auckland, arrived on 19 March – flight EK447, Auckland to Dunedin on 19 March – flight JQ285
120Dunedin60sMLondon to LA on 14 March, then LA to Auckland on flight NZ5, Auckland to Dunedin on 16 March – flight NZ671
119Waikato50sMNo international travel history – exposed at World Herefords Conference in Queenstown
118AucklandTeensFDetails to come
117Auckland30sFArrived in Auckland on 18 March, flight details to come
116Auckland20sFArrived in Auckland on 20 March, flight details to come
115Auckland30sFDetails to come
114AucklandTeensFDetails to come
113Auckland40sMArrived in Auckland 18 March, flight details to come
112Auckland30sFDetails to come
111Waikato60sFDeparted on 16 March – flight EK0448
110Christchurch60sMRelative of a confirmed case
109Christchurch60sFRelative of a confirmed case
108QueenstownTeensMDubai to Auckland on 18 March – flight EK448, Auckland to Queenstown on 19 March – flight EK7563
107Dunedin30sFNo international travel history – exposed at World Herefords Conference in Queenstown
106Otago50sFNo international travel history – exposed at World Herefords Conference in Queenstown.
105South Canterbury20sMDeparted Switzerland 16 March, flew via Abu Dhabi to New Zealand – flight EY0052
104Auckland20sMDetails to come
103Auckland40sMUSA to Auckland, arrived 18 March, flight details to come

Probable cases

CaseLocationAgeGenderTravel details
13Wellington RegionTeensM 
12Wellington60sF 
11Wellington Region60sM 
10Wellington80sM 
9Auckland50sM 
8Waikato50sF 
7CanterburyTeensF 
6Auckland70sFArrived in New Zealand from USA
5Auckland70sMArrived in Auckland from Qatar
4Hamilton40sF 
3Dunedin50sF 
2AucklandTeensF 
1Auckland50sNot provided