May 4, 2020
New Zealand COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 4
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Health Ashley Bloomfield held a New Zealand coronavirus press briefing on May 4. They reported no new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand for the second straight day.
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Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (00:00)
Today we have no new cases of COVID-19 to report. In addition, one case that was previously categorized as a probable case has been changed and is now defined as not a case. So our overall total of confirmed and probable cases decreases by one to 1,486. Our total number of confirmed cases therefore remains at 1,137 and we will continue to report this number to the World Health Organization as we do update them each day.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (00:35)
Yesterday there were 3,300 sorry. 3,232 tests processed at our laboratories around the country and the combined total to date is 155,928 tests. Of our cases, 1,302 are reported as recovered, which represents a total of 88% of our confirmed and probable cases.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (01:03)
Today there are four people in hospital and none of these is in ICU. There are no additional deaths to report. We still have the 16 significant clusters around New Zealand with three now closed as I’ve previously reported. One existing cluster, this is the Saint Margaret’s Hospital and Rest Home has today had five new cases linked to it. It’s important to note these are not new cases, rather what has happened is following further investigation, cases from what was previously considered a separate smaller cluster had been linked to the Saint Margaret’s cluster and those have been merged. These are existing cases and none of them are patients at Waitakere Hospital.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (01:46)
Obviously having zero new cases of COVID-19 to report for a second day in a row is very encouraging and all New Zealanders should feel pleased with your efforts. I certainly do and end of what we have achieved together over these last weeks.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (02:02)
Of course, we must stick to the plan. The worst thing we could do now is celebrate success early before the full time whistle blows and jeopardize the gains we have made. Stay the course, stay in your bubble and don’t squander what we have achieved by giving the virus a chance that it will only to readily accept. If we do that.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (02:25)
I just want to talk a bit about exemptions. We require anyone entering the country, as you know, to go into a 14-day period of either quarantine or managed isolation. The former if they are symptomatic. To date, since 28th of March, around 6,000 returned travelers to New Zealand have gone into managed isolation or quarantine and there are currently 179 people in the quarantine facilities and just under 2,800 people in managed isolation.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (02:56)
These precautions are obviously to prevent the virus coming into our country and to ensure that all New Zealanders are protected. There is of course a process for requesting an exemption including on compassionate grounds and the ministry has to date received 24 such requests that relate to a dying relative.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (03:17)
As you know, there has been a judicial request of one of additional review of one of those requests which last Friday resulted in the court intervening and a personal visit was organized. As a result of that judicial review, I’ve asked our team to review previous similar requests to ensure that they followed the correct process and take into account the judge’s findings. I should also point out that it won’t be the same team doing that review of those cases but they are being done by a separate team that is in the National Crisis Management. Center, which considers all those requests for exemption for domestic travel, so they have been done by an entirely separate group of people. The review started today. I have asked for it to be completed as soon as possible this week.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (04:03)
Today is International Midwives Day and I want to shout out to all the midwives who work in [Alta 00:04:09] New Zealand as both lead maternity carers in the community and are called midwives in hospitals and our primary birthing units [inaudible 00:04:19]. There are about 3,200 of these essential frontline workers and they undertake important work across our communities and during the period of lockdown, around 6,000 babies were delivered, many if not all with the help of those midwives. So once again, I want to acknowledge the wonderful work they do, not just today but each day.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (04:43)
Today is also World Hand Hygiene Day. Now that’s very apposite at this time but also should point out that every day at the moment should be World Hand Hygiene Day and it’s a very important reminder today of the importance of what is a very simple action that prevents passing on any infection, but in particular at the moment, greatly reduces the risk of passing on the COVID-19 infection and fittingly this year, the campaign theme is Save Lives, Clean Your Hands.
Doctor Ashley Bloomfield: (05:17)
Prime Minister, I’m happy to leave it there and hand back to you.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (05:20)
Thank you very much Doctor Bloomfield. Can I reiterate your thanks to those who are our midwives in our communities and it is in times like this that we acknowledge the role that they play for many mums-to-be within the community and within the [Efano 00:05:38] and they always go above and beyond. I just want to acknowledge that and also of course World Hand Washing Day as well.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (05:45)
Achieving zero cases two days in a row is the result of New Zealand is demonstrating our level of commitment and discipline to our goal of winning the fight against COVID-19, that we can all be undeniably proud of. It points to a lockdown doing exactly what we’d planned it to do, break the chain of transmission.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (06:07)
However, we know the virus can have a long tail and the other cases can pop up. So as we make our way through this week and head towards the level three review next week, my message remains. Don’t do anything that snatches our potential victory at this point.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (06:28)
One case at one gathering has led to multiple clusters and the virus getting away on us can still happen. So my message remains the same for the remainder of the week. Stay home, stay in your bubble, maintain physical distancing and let’s double down this week to maintain this a good run of numbers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (06:49)
I’m also mindful that I have seen positive numbers and other places before and it’s not always sustained so we do need to still be cautious. Before I come to Australia, I want to give you a quick update on the progress of the support and assistance for businesses and the workers hit by COVID-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (07:07)
This afternoon, the COVID-19 Response fear the measurement measures [inaudible 00:07:11] but have its first reading in parliament. It gives a range of measures the government has put in place to support businesses through the pandemic, including helping businesses facing insolvency to remain viable by hibernating existing debt until they can trade normally again.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (07:27)
Changes to the parental leave scheme to allow essential workers to return to work without being disadvantaged, by losing entitlements to a certain leave and payments. And changes that will allow the likes of the Heart Foundation and Coast Guard and particularly Countdown Kids Charitable Trust, to process their fundraising lotteries through email, phone, and electronic payments. These are just some of the innovative consequences of this extraordinary time we’re in and the resolution that we’re finding for those problems.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (07:58)
First reading of the bill will take place this afternoon and we’ll be referred to the Epidemic Response Committee for consideration and reported back to the House on Tuesday 12 May. It will then move through the remaining sort of stages as quickly as possible.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (08:13)
I’ve just come from a meeting of the Australian National Cabinet, a gathering of Australia, state and federal leaders, to discuss our experience with COVID-19 on both sides of the ditch, what we can learn from one another and how we might be able to work together as we recover from this pandemic.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (08:32)
The National Cabinet tends to meet in times of national crisis, but obviously is infrequent. The last New Zealand prime minister participate in such a meeting was Peter Fraser who attended various meetings of Australia’s a wall cabinet.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (08:45)
Australians and New Zealanders has traveled across the ditch more than they do anywhere else. New Zealand is Australia’s second largest source of tourists after China with 1.2 million visitors last year and 1.6 million Aussies visited us. So we both stand to benefit from getting travel up and running again.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (09:04)
Part of the reason for so much trouble is it families and friendships of course span the Tasman; around 75,000 Australians and New Zealand and more than half a million Kiwis in Australia. We’re also Australia’s largest export market by number of exporting firms, 18 and a half Aussie businesses trade with New Zealand, meaning we’re especially critical for Australian [inaudible 00:09:26]. So the case for increasing economic relations when safe is clear.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (09:32)
I joined the meeting at the very, very beginning and I should note it is still underway and so you’ll forgive me for not saying too much here at this point but it is our intention to issue a statement at the conclusion of the National Cabinet in order to provide you all with an update of some of the issues discussed and some of the potential outcomes of that meeting.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (09:55)
But again, I would note, such a discussion has only been possible as a result of the world leading results on both sides of the Tasman, then to get the virus under control and I do think that we should both be proud of the efforts that had been made and also again, the demonstration of the important Anzac bond between us.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (10:14)
On to a bit of Kiwi ingenuity. I’ve outlined a few innovations today that are helping to get our economy moving. I want to reflect on one of those in particular and that is our vital supply chain, our transport sector. New ways of working have ensured our food and goods have been unpacked from ships and aircraft, loaded into trucks and delivered to retailers, as well as kept our exports flowing.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (10:37)
At Wellington Centrepoint, the teams eliminated face-to-face contact and physical paperwork and they’ve adopted digital kiosks, radio comms, automated way bridges and virtual planning meetings. We’ve seen that same kind of adaptability in businesses up and down the country.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (10:52)
Just one example is how to particular drivers, Greg and Sam have willingly changed their hours of work and routines to match the different Interislander ferry timetables so they can continue to get frozen vegetables and chips from Ashburton to the ferries and pectin.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: (11:08)
I want to say thanks to Greg and Sam. Necessity breeds innovation and with social distancing and good hygiene, likely of course to be with us for a long time to come, I wouldn’t be surprised if we keep seeing innovation throughout our alert levels and across the country.