Apr 6, 2020
New Zealand COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 6
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Health Ashley Bloomfield held a press briefing on April 6 for New Zealand. Read the full transcript of their statements here.
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Ashley Bloomfield: (00:00)
So today there are a total of 54 new cases to report. 32 of these are confirmed cases, and 22 are probable cases. There are no additional deaths to report, and we can report the 241 people have now recovered from the COVID-19 infection. So the new total combined of cases both confirmed and probable in New Zealand today is 1,160. Today there are 12 people in hospital, and four of these are in intensive care units around the country. One in Wellington, one in Waitematā, one in Counties Monaco and one in Southern District Health Board. One of those people is in a critical condition, and one person has been discharged from hospital since our update yesterday.
Ashley Bloomfield: (00:49)
For the cases we have information on, 42% are linked to overseas travel, so that proportion continues to drop, and 41% are contacts known existing cases, and we have confirmed community transmission at 2%. The balance we continue to investigate to get to the bottom of where they may have been infected. The ethnic breakdown is as follows: 73.3% European, 8.5% Asian, Maori is 7.8%, and Pacific 3.4%. As usual, we will publish all the details including demographic information on our website this afternoon.
Ashley Bloomfield: (01:30)
We’re continuing to see testing happening across the country. The seven day rolling average of the number of tests is 3,063. The total tests undertaken to date is 42,826, and yesterday there were 2,908 tests undertaken. We will be also publishing that daily test number on our website and we will do that from right from the start, going right back to when we first started testing so that people can map, if they wish to, the number of tests undertaken each day. Our test capacity, despite that increase in test numbers, gradually continues to increase, and as of today, we have enough tests on shore, complete tests, to do 44,000 tests, and that will be up to between 50,000 and 60,000, even with ongoing testing, by the end of this week. We have 50,000 nasal swabs in stock and are expecting a further 250,000 such swabs over the coming three to four weeks from a local supplier.
Ashley Bloomfield: (02:35)
People will be interested to know that the World Health Organization has updated its advice on the use of masks, in particular in the general population. And just in summary, the WHO does not recommend the use of medical masks by the general public, except in particular circumstances where someone is sick and wearing a mask to protect others, or someone who is caring for a sick person, and the mask can help to protect them. That advice is on the WHO website.
Ashley Bloomfield: (03:04)
And a final comment, just to reiterate my point from yesterday, if you need medical attention for anything, whether it’s COVID symptoms or a non-COVID illness, any exacerbation of an existing illness, please do seek medical attention promptly. All general practices and other primary care providers are able to attend to your needs, and please get onto that quickly. And just to clarify that travel for essential health care in another region, essential medical care is classified as essential travel, and people should undertake that travel to get care that might be required out of their district, and the advice on our website will be being updated today
Jacinda Ardern: (03:46)
On to COVID-19 related matters, I can also report that we do, as the Director General of Health says, continue to ramp up our testing capacity. We are testing more and more people, and the growth in the number of new cases remains relatively consistent. While I still urge caution, this does suggest that what we are doing as a nation is working. This was echoed earlier today on Nine To Noon by John McDermott, who leads the team of data scientists that I referenced on Sunday. He said over the next day or so we could begin to continue to see the impacts of alert level four. He says, quote, “When numbers start to fall, that is the first indication to interventions working.” John explains we need to go through three phases. You start with the outbreak, then secondly you want linear, which we have seen over the past few days, and thirdly is the phase where you see cases start to fall.
Jacinda Ardern: (04:38)
He is cautiously optimistic that what we’re doing with the lockdown is making a difference, but as with any data analysis, there are always possibilities of setbacks, but for the moment, we do appear, at this early stage, to be on track. Another reason, if one was needed, of the need to stay at home. Now is not the time to change any of our behaviors. Now, that doesn’t make the physical isolation any easier, so I also note today that we have announced a range of support being rolled out to help look after people, look after their mental health as we fight COVID-19. Details of our Tangata Pacific community’s health response to the virus has also been released.
Jacinda Ardern: (05:24)
I can also share that as of last night, the government’s wage subsidy scheme has provided support to preserve the jobs of over one million New Zealanders. The latest numbers show that over 435,000 applications have been made, almost 10,000 yesterday alone, and that has seen over 6.6 billion paid out to help retain 1,073,120 workers.
Jacinda Ardern: (05:52)
Finally, the Foreign Minister has just announced that New Zealand will enter into transit arrangements with a range of countries to make it easier for each other’s citizens to get home. As you know, a major barrier to New Zealanders getting back here at the moment is the transit restrictions imposed by many other countries, and we in turn are also receiving an increasing number of requests from foreign governments to allow their nationals to transit through Auckland. I note that while this is a welcome development, and regardless of the countries involved, we will maintain strict criteria in determining the basis on which people can transit through New Zealand in order to protect public health and meet our level four requirements. That includes that any transiting passengers absolutely remain airside.
Jacinda Ardern: (06:41)
Lastly, I do want to acknowledge the news this morning that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently in intensive care. Upon learning the Prime Minister had tested positive for COVID-19 some days ago now, I sent a message to him to pass on New Zealand’s best wishes. He replied to that message and said that his thoughts were also, quote, “with all our friends in New Zealand.” This more than ever is a time when every nation is connected, and I know we want everyone in the UK, especially the Prime Minister, to know that we are thinking of them.