Photo Day

Duperez has suggested “And maybe a challenge each day (or when all else fails) is to go outside and take a photo to share.”

Good idea, but may we can vary the focus for the day, perhaps have a music day, a book day, an online interest day etc. This photo post day could extend across days.

Any photo subject is welcome, nature, what your neighbourhood is like under shutdown, projects or whatever.

Duperez: Why not start with another little b who didn’t stay in their own patch?!”

Here’s a cheat of my street (it’s from Street View September 2019) but this is how my street looked yesterday and will look today and looks most days except when there’s a local school fair and it’s chocker with parked cars, or occasional when someone wanders or walks their dog up and back.

I might post pic from today when it gets light.

If you don’t know how to post a pic you can email it to me – YourNZContact@gmail.com -and I can do it for you. It may take a wee while, I will be busy outside at times today.

What can we do in lockdown? It’s up to us.

We are heading for lockdown, confined to our homes unless going out for groceries or medical assistance) with some access to outdoors if we keep our distance from other people.

Otherwise, what can we do for weeks if not months of confinement?

If you’re reading this you have access to the Internet. This will be the primary means of communication for many of us.  I will be keeping in touch with overseas family I have been cut off from already, and local family that will soon be off limits in person.

We will still have TV, radio, newspapers probably (the ODT was very thin yesterday presumably as advertising dries up).

We can still interact with our neighbours as long as we keep our distance.

I will keep posting here, perhaps even more as I will have more time at home.

We are being forced into a different way of life for a while. perhaps wee can use this time to look at better ways of doing things online.

We can be more supportive, more positive, and we can find ways of being more interesting. If anyone wants to do a guest post then go for it. Or if you have ideas on what things I can cover here I’m open to suggestions.

We are in a very challenging time. It could be tough in ways and at times, but in adversity we can rise to the challenge.

What we do with the unprecedented situation we’re in is up to us.

New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours

It has been confirmed that Alert Level Four takes effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

More from the Beehive/Prime Minister:


  • New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict
  • New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours
  • Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare

Level 3, from tomorrow

  • Non-essential businesses must close
  • All events and gatherings must be cancelled
  • Schools will only open for children of essential workers. They will close completely when we move to Level 4
  • Workplaces must implement alternative working with everyone who can to work from home
  • No discretionary domestic air travel between regions
  • Public transport for people undertaking essential services and transport of freight only

 

New Zealand has moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict, for the next 48 hours before moving into Level 4 – Eliminate, as New Zealand escalates its response to stop the virus in its tracks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

“Due to the early and strong steps we’ve taken, New Zealand is fortunate not to be as hard-hit by the virus as other countries but the trajectory is clear. We are under attack like the rest of the world and must unite to stop the worst from happening here,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“If community transmission takes off in New Zealand the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and thousands of New Zealanders will die.

“Together we can stop that from happening and our plan is simple. We can stop the spread by staying home and reducing contact.

“Moving to Level 3, then 4, will place the most significant restrictions on our people in modern history but they are a necessary sacrifice to save lives.

“At Level 3, we are asking non-essential businesses to close. This includes bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries and other places where people gather together.

“Essential services will remain open, such as supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies, service stations, couriers and other important frontline service providers.

“Gatherings, indoors or out, and of any shape or size, must be cancelled. This means weddings, birthday celebrations and other gatherings.

“Workplaces should have everyone working from home. Essential services will stay open at every level, but must put in place alternative ways of working including physical distancing of staff of two metres.

“Schools will be closed from tomorrow, except to children of essential workers who still need to go to work each day including doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday.

“The school term break will be brought forward. For the remainder of this week and through the term break schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely as quickly as they can.

“Public transport and regional air travel is restricted to those involved in essential services and freight, with domestic air travel permitted in some cases for people to leave the country and to get home to self-isolate. Private travel is allowed.

“I say to all New Zealanders: The Government will do all it can to protect you. Now I’m asking you to do everything you can to protect all of us. Kiwis – go home.

“Today, get your neighbour’s phone number, set up a community group chat, get your gear to work from home, cancel social gatherings of any size or shape, prepare to walk around the block while keeping a two-metre distance between you.

“If in doubt, don’t go out.

“These measures will be in place for four weeks at this point.

“New Zealand is fighting an unprecedented global pandemic and it will take a collective effort of every single New Zealander doing the right thing to give us our best shot at curtailing community outbreak,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Further details available at www.covid19.govt.nz


It has been confirmed that Alert Level Four takes effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

New Zealand shutting down in 48 hours

Jacinda Ardern has just announced New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 3 immediately, and to Alert level 4 in 48 hours, for 4 weeks. So everyone has time to get sorted ready to hunker down, and 4 weeks is just provisional and will depend on how things go.

I’ve been fairly dispassionate up to now following all this, but for the first time am quite emotional. This is a very big thing.

That’s why Cabinet met today and agreed that effective immediately, we will move to Alert Level 3 nationwide.

After 48 hours, the time required to ensure essential services are in place, we will move to Level 4.

To be successful though, to stop community transmission which has a lag time, these measures will need to be in place for 4 weeks. Again, I want to reiterate, you will be able to make regular visits to essential services in that time.

If we after those 4 weeks we have been successful, we I hope will be able to ease up on restrictions. If we haven’t, we’ll find ourselves living with them for longer. That’s why sticking to the rules matters.

Supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations, access to essential banking services will all be available throughout New Zealand at every alert level. If you do not have immediate needs, do not go to the supermarket. It will be there for you today, tomorrow, and the day after that. We must give time for supermarkets to restock their shelves, there will be enough for everyone if we shop normally.

Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face to face function.

Over the next 48 hours as we move to Level 4, takeaway services must move to close their operations.

All indoor and outdoor events cannot proceed.

In short: we are all now preparing to go into self isolation as a nation.

Ardern’s statement:


Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased

Good afternoon

The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.

Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ahead of it.

On Saturday I announced a COVID-19 alert level system and placed New Zealand at Alert Level 2.

I also said we should all be prepared to move quickly. Now is the time to put our plans into action.

We are fortunate to still be some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases, but the trajectory is clear. Act now, or risk the virus taking hold as it has elsewhere.

We currently have 102 cases. But so did Italy once. Now the virus has overwhelmed their health system and hundreds of people are dying every day.

The situation here is moving at pace, and so must we.

We have always said we would act early. Today 36 new cases were announced. While the majority of these cases continue to be linked to overseas travel in some way, I can also confirm, as did the Director General of Health, that we have 2 cases where public health officials have been unable to find how they came in contact with COVID-19. On that basis, we now consider that there is transmission within our communities.

If community transmission takes off in New Zealand the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and tens of thousands New Zealanders will die.

There is no easy way to say that – but it is the reality we have seen overseas – and the possibility we must now face here.

Together, we must stop that happening, and we can.

Right now we have a window of opportunity to break the chain of community transmission – to contain the virus – to stop it multiplying and to protect New Zealanders from the worst.

Our plan is simple. We can stop the spread by staying at home and reducing contact.

Now is the time to act.

That’s why Cabinet met today and agreed that effective immediately, we will move to Alert Level 3 nationwide.

After 48 hours, the time required to ensure essential services are in place, we will move to Level 4.

These decisions will place the most significant restriction on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history. This is not a decision taken lightly. But this is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives.

Let me set out what these changes will mean for everyone.

Supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations, access to essential banking services will all be available throughout New Zealand at every alert level. If you do not have immediate needs, do not go to the supermarket. It will be there for you today, tomorrow, and the day after that. We must give time for supermarkets to restock their shelves, there will be enough for everyone if we shop normally.

In the meantime, we will be working through practices like those used overseas to make sure that social distancing is maintained at supermarkets when people are undertaking essential shops.

Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face to face function.

Over the next 48 hours as we move to Level 4, takeaway services must move to close their operations.

All indoor and outdoor events cannot proceed.

In short: we are all now preparing to go into self isolation as a nation. Just as you’ve seen with other countries.

Staying at home is essential. It’s a simple but highly effective way to constrain the virus – it denies it places to go, and will help give our healthcare system a fighting chance.

So over the next 48 hours every workplace must implement alternative ways of working, people must work from home so that interactions with others are limited.

Essential services will need to put in place alternative ways of working that ensure physical distancing of staff of 2 meters, or utilise appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.

Schools will be closed from tomorrow, except to the children of essential workers such as our doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police – this will give them time to plan. This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday.

The school term break will be brought forward. For the remainder of this week and through the term break schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely. All students across the country are currently being given information on this decision for their parents, including the list of who is considered an essential service. This will be communicated directly to parents.

To be absolutely clear we are now asking all New Zealanders who are outside essential services to stay at home, and to stop all interactions with others outside of those in your household.

I understand that self isolation is a daunting prospect. So we are being practical. You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary. We are asking that you only spend time with those you are in self isolation with. And if you are outside, keep your distance from others. That means 2 meters at all times. This is the single most important thing we can do right now to stop further community transmission.

Travel around New Zealand will also change.

Over the next 48 hours, people will need to get home, be it locally or throughout the country. We have asked all air transport providers to ensure social distancing for that period. After 48 hours we will be moving to air travel only applying to the transport of people undertaking essential services and the transport of freight.

Public transport will also begin to transition over the next 48 hours will only be available for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to move essential goods – including ferry services between the North and South Island.

Further details on the transition we are all now making will be made publicly available on the COVID-19 website.

Now I want to share with you what will happen while we are all in alert Level 4 to get ahead of COVID-19.

We will continue to vigorously contact trace every single case. Testing will continue at pace to help us understand the current number of cases in New Zealand and where they are based. If we flush out the cases we already have and see transmission slow, we will potentially be able to move areas out of Level 4 over time.

But for the next wee while, things will look worse before they look better. In the short term the number of cases will likely rise because the virus is already in our community. But these new measures can slow the virus down and prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and ultimately save lives.

To be successful though, to stop community transmission which has a lag time, these measures will need to be in place for 4 weeks. Again, I want to reiterate, you will be able to make regular visits to essential services in that time.

If we after those 4 weeks we have been successful, we I hope will be able to ease up on restrictions. If we haven’t, we’ll find ourselves living with them for longer. That’s why sticking to the rules matters. If we don’t – if you hang out with that friend at a park or see that family member for lunch, you risk spreading COVID -19 and extending everyone’s time in Level 4.

Our low number of cases compared to the rest of the world gives us a chance, but does not mean we have escaped. I do not underestimate what I am asking New Zealanders to do. It’s huge. And I know it will feel daunting. But I wanted to share with you the stark choice we face.

New medical modelling considered by the Cabinet today suggests that without the measures I have just announced up to tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die from COVID-19.

Everything you will all give up for the next few weeks, all of the lost contact with others, all of the isolation, and difficult time entertaining children – it will literally save lives. Thousands of lives.

The worst case scenario is simply intolerable. It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders’ lives in our country’s history. I will not take that chance.

I would rather make this decision now, and save those lives, and be in lockdown for a shorter period, than delay, see New Zealanders lose loved ones and their contact with each other for an even longer period. I hope you are all with me on that.

Together we have an opportunity to contain the spread and prevent the worst.

I cannot stress enough the need for every New Zealander to follow the advice I have laid out today.

The Government will do all it can to protect you .Now I’m asking you to do everything you can to protect us all. None of us can do this alone.

Your actions will be critical to our collective ability to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Failure to play your part in the coming days will put the lives of others at risk. There will be no tolerance for that and we will not hesitate in using enforcement powers if needed.

We’re in this together and must unite against COVID-19.

I am in no doubt that the measures I have announced today will cause unprecedented economic and social disruption. But they are necessary.

I have one final message. Be kind. I know people will want to act as enforcers. And I understand that, people are afraid and anxious. We will play that role for you. What we need from you, is support one another. Go home tonight and check in on your neighbours. Start a phone tree with your street. Plan how you’ll keep in touch with one another. We will get through this together, but only if we stick together. Be strong and be kind.

I am now going to hand over to the Finance Minister to set out the additional support measures agreed by Cabinet today to provide income guarantees to those whose livelihood is disrupted by the virus.

Straight after that Minister Hipkins will talk through some of the specific decisions as they relate to education.

Following that we are making available Commissioner of Police, Mike Bush who has been playing a key role in the operational side, and John Ombler the Controller of the all of government response to speak with you and answer additional questions.


It has been confirmed that Alert Level Four takes effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Covid-19 daily update – now 102 cases

From today’s Ministry of Health update (why do they keep changing the time?) from Doctor Ashley Bloomfield:

36 new cases today, so it has shot up, looks like we are on the exponential curve.

Over half directly related to overseas travel.

Most of the remaining cases are close contacts of previously identified cases.

The source in two cases cannot be determined so community transfer can’t be ruled out. One is in Auckland, one in the Wairarapa.

Total confirmed now is 102.


The Prime Minister will be talking about the alert level in the next hour or so, so more updates to come. It is expected to be ‘a major announcement’.

Jacinda Ardern: Confirms new 2 cases can’t be traced which means there is community transmission.

Effective immediately we are moving to Alert Level 3.

In 48 hours we will move to Alert Level 4.

“We are now preparing as a nation to go into self-isolation”.

Schools will be closed from tomorrow, except for children of essential workers like doctors and nurses.

Prime Minister needs to urgently address calls for immediate lockdown

Health experts are calling for an immediate lockdown of the country. So are doctors and nurses.

Teachers are imploring Ardern to immediately shut down schools.

Social media seems largely in support of more drastic action immediately. Shutdowns are going to happen anyway, it’s just not worth the risk of spread of the virus, not the risk of health and lives.

I expect Prime Minister Ardern will address this soon (this morning after consulting with Cabinet) perhaps. She has to.

Community spread must already be occurring, further action implored

Nearly all confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand have been linked to international travel, and there has been no confirmation of contracting the virus via community transmission – but this may be happening undetected.

Epidemiologist Doctor David Skegg – NZ’s Covid response: We need to be more open

The New Zealand Government should be congratulated on many aspects of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is an urgent need for more openness about the current situation and the options for controlling further spread of this disease.

Community transmission

For some weeks I have been concerned by repeated statements that the probability of community transmission of the coronavirus in this country is low. Not nearly enough testing has been carried out so far. Since testing has been heavily skewed towards people who have been overseas recently, it is hardly surprising that most of the cases detected had links to overseas travel.

All the epidemiologists I talk with expect that community transmission is already occurring, at least in some places. Why should the virus behave differently in New Zealand than elsewhere?

Authorities have argued that decisions about testing are left to the expert judgement of clinicians. Yet some clinicians have complained about difficulty in arranging tests.

There have reports that even people with possible Covid-19 symptoms are not being tested because they don’t have links to anyone who has travelled internationally.

I know a nurse who works in an aged care hospital who was off  work with symptoms last and tried to have a test, but was told she didn’t need one as she had no travel links.

US Senator Rand Paul tests positive for Covid-19

Republican US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has tested positive for coronavirus…Paul has no symptoms and was tested out of “abundance of caution” given his recent travels

How many people with no symptoms are carrying and possible spreading the virus?

If this is common practice then community transmission won’t be detected because they are excluding that from testing.

People are surprised when I tell them that, allowing for population size, the epidemic of COVID-19 in New Zealand appears to be running only about 8 days behind that in the United Kingdom – a country that had no border controls.

The UK currently has 5,071 confirmed cases and 233 deaths.

We seem to be tracking a little behind Australia on spread, and they are making major moves this week, with NSW, Victoria and Queensland moving into lockdown on Tuesday.

ABC: NSW, Victoria and ACT jump the gun on PM’s indoor venue crackdown with early state-wide shutdowns

The Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and ACT beat the Prime Minister in flagging a host of closures across their states on Sunday, hours before the Federal Government’s crackdown on indoor venues.

In their announcements earlier on Sunday, the three states said schools would remain open on Monday, but Victoria’s school holidays would be brought forward to start on Tuesday.

Queensland set to follow NSW and Victoria in shutting down non-essential services.

Western Australia and South Australia have joined Tasmania and the Northern Territory in requiring visitors to isolate for 14 days upon arrival, effectively closing the borders.

ABC: Crackdown on social distancing sees pubs, indoor sporting and religious venues to close

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says parents can keep their children in school, but licenced clubs, pubs, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs and places of worship will close from midday Monday.
The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).

Australia currently has 1,353 cases and 7 reported deaths.

Things are escalating in Auckland – Seven Auckland schools shut

Students of seven Auckland schools will be staying home today due to Covid-19 cases and precautions.

Glendowie College is closed until Thursday after a student tested positive for Covid-19.

Marist College for girls in Mt Albert, where a teacher has the virus, is closed, as is the next door Marist Primary as a precaution. It’s expected to reopen Thursday.

Mount Roskill Grammar School where a parent has tested positive for Covid-19 is also closed, however, this is a scheduled closure. The parent, who returned from overseas March 12, attended a school event the same evening.

A Randwick Park Intermediate School student is a “probable case” and the school will be shut for 72 hours.

Tests on a Pukekohe High School student and a Pukekohe Intermediate School students were both negative however, the schools will remain closed until Tuesday. The decision was made as a precaution to avoid difficulty communicating to parents over the weekend if tests were positive.

Another school in Auckland alerted parents Sunday evening a teacher, who is a close contact to a confirmed case, is now in precautionary self-isolation. The teacher does not have symptoms and the school is remaining open.

In a letter from the Ministry of Education parents were told the risk was low.

“The latest evidence shows that, unlike influenza, there is a very low risk that a person is able to transmit the virus before they have symptoms.”

At present the Government’s stance is that shutting schools down isn’t necessary as there is not widespread community transmission here.

There’s concern preemptively shutting schools could mean grandparents. who are vulnerable due to their age, would end up caring for children.

That’s exactly what I’m doing. A grandson is ‘immunne-compromised’ – he has type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease. We are taking him in and setting up in virtual self-isolation. I can do this because I can work from home. And we will talk to his high school about keeping him at home.

We see this as prudent because his other family contacts pose a greater risk – his father is still working which involves personal contact, he has siblings at two other schools, and his other grandparents work in exposed jobs – in a supermarket and as a taxi driver that does airport work.

The official stance on level 2 is that as a country we are not yet in lockdown – but the sooner that happens the more we can reduce spread of the virus.

The petition calling for moving immediately to Level 4 and a mandatory social lockdown has jumped to 55,000 signatures.

Stuff: Major benefits and dire consequences to lockdowns, expert says

The Ministry of Health says it will only encourage lockdowns in New Zealand if the local coronavirus situation changes dramatically.

But a public health expert believes a lockdown is critical sooner rather than later to fight the pandemic and save New Zealand from the catastrophic path of some other countries.

For now, appeals for people to self-isolate and follow social distancing remain pivotal to Government coronavirus strategy. But outrage is brewing about people who flout self-isolation guidelines and can’t seem to take social distancing advice.

As shutdowns loom in Australia, a comprehensive local lockdown now would offer New Zealand a “clear path forward”, Professor Michael Baker told Stuff on Sunday.

“All I can do is convey the epidemiological rationale for doing it very rapidly,” said Baker, from the University of Otago’s Department of Public Health.

“The alternatives are pretty dire.”

Enforcing limits in social movement could essentially suffocate the virus’ ability to spread, Baker said.

Baker expected Government leaders were already preparing for lockdowns.

He believed it was a matter of timing and taking into account logistical challenges, but said the sooner lockdowns came, the better.

Baker said he’d “be delighted” if a lockdown was announced immediately.

I want to avoid direand am concerned that Covid-19 may already spreading in communities.

I’m going to effectively lock down now – it will be enforced soon anyway, and protecting lives must be a priority. We all have this choice now.


Stuff: Close schools immediately, Teaching Council pleads

The Teaching Council has called for all schools and daycare centres to shut down immediately.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, Teaching Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin made the call which she said was on behalf of 130,000 teachers.

The closure should be immediate, she said.

“As the voice of teachers, the council, on behalf of all teachers, implores you to act now and to move to Alert Level-4, closing early childhood centres and schools.

 

Ministry of health update – now 67 confirmed cases

The daily update from Doctor Ashley Bloomfield from the Ministry of Health.

14 new cases, making a total of 67 cases, including 4 probable cases. Total tests to date over 6000.

Most new cases are in the North Island –  5 confirmed cases in Auckland, one in Northland, one in Canterbury, two in New Plymouth, two in Waikato including one in Hamilton, one in Tauranga, one in the Coromandel – but one in Dunedin. 11 are linked to travel.

Two cases from yesterday still can’t rule out community transfer as no link to recent travel have been identified.

The alert level remains at level 2.

People over 70 are being urged to stay at home, and to not have visitors.

A staff member at a rest home and respite care facility, Ellerslie Gardens, in Auckland has tested positive for COVID 19 but the Minisftry isn’t concerned as the appropriate steps have been taken.


Ministry of Health:

Some quick facts on COVID-19 testing in New Zealand:

  • Your GP or medical practitioner will decide whether you need a test.
  • At the moment, we are usually just testing people who fit the case definition, so if you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever and shortness of breath), you won’t be tested.
  • We have run thousands of tests so far and the vast majority have come back negative.
  • To date, labs in New Zealand have completed over 1,100 tests in a day, and capacity is rising.

Covid-19 “will be here for some time”

It has become obvious that the impact of Covid-19 will continue for some time, either contracting the virus or the significant impact on everyone’ way of life – months if not years.

Yesterday Jacinda Ardern said we should accept there would be a “significant disruption” to daily life from now on – “this will not leave in weeks. It will be here for some time”. Some time is obviously going to be quite a bit more than a few weeks.

As of Saturday afternoon there were 52 confirmed cases in New Zealand, with the possibility that two of the latest my have been community spread. This is significant, because if community spread is confirmed then communities (probably local at first, for example towns, cities or schools) are going to be locked down – that is, we will be asked if not compelled to stay at home.

So far 279,000 people have been confirmed infected across the world and 12.755 have died.

Italy and Europe continues to bear the brunt of the pandemic.

Reuters: Italy coronavirus deaths surge by 793 in a day, lifting total death toll to 4,825

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has leapt by 793 to 4,825, officials said on Saturday, an increase of 19.6% — by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since the contagion emerged a month ago.

The total number of cases in Italy rose to 53,578 from a previous 47,021, an increase of 13.9%

Italy is in lockdown and their health system is under severe strain, currently having to try to care for 2,857 people in intensive care.

Spain, France and Germany also have a large number of cases, but the death rates are markedly different, suggesting that access to good healthcare is imperative – Germany has started to take patients from France. The worst affected countries:

The full table, map and other information from Reuters here.

Good data summaries from John Hopkins University including this map:

That shows the virus spread around the world, with China, Iran, Europe and the US prominent. It seems odd to see so little in Russia but these are reported cases.

Russia has reported few coronavirus cases but a sharp spike in pneumonia

Despite its large population and hefty border with China, Russia has reported just 306 confirmed coronavirus cases. Pneumonia, however, is booming, according to official statistics.

As of March 18, only one lab, located near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, has been able to carry out tests—and had found only 114 positive results from 116,000 tests, according to the Moscow Times. That is the lowest ratio of tests to positive cases in the world, the paper reports. A deputy in the health committee of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, acknowledged the “figures are likely a lot higher.”

As the US and EU accuse the Kremlin of sowing disinformation about Covid-19 at Americans and Europeans, some Russians are looking back at Chernobyl and accusing their government of again lying to its own people about a public health crisis.

International power playing and propaganda haven’t been halted by Covid-19.

More from Reuters: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

  • Spain said it would turn a Madrid conference center into a giant military hospital, as Europe’s second-worst outbreak claimed another 235 lives.
  • France reported 78 new deaths on Friday, taking the total to 450, an increase of 21%.
  • Germany may enforce a nationwide curfew if the country’s 83 million people fail to keep their distance from each other this weekend.
  • New Jersey’s governor was expected on Saturday to follow four other states – California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut – demanding that millions of Americans close up shop and stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus infections. The total number of known U.S. cases has climbed past 19,000 in a surge that health officials attributed in large part to an increase in diagnostic testing. More than 270 Americans have died.
  • China reported a record rise in imported coronavirus cases as students and expatriates returned home from the United States and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak.
    All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from overseas.
  • Indonesia’s total of cases rose to 450, with 38 deaths, a health ministry official said on Saturday. This comes a day after the governor of Jakarta declared a state of emergency in the Indonesian capital for the next two weeks.
  • Malaysia’s cases jumped to 1,183 on Saturday with four deaths.
  • Iran’s death toll from the outbreak rose on Saturday by more than 100 to 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.
  • Angola on Saturday confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, while Mauritius recorded its first death as the virus spreads across Africa.

The news may not all be bad.

One reason for measured optimism is the prospect that antiviral medicines will beat the coronavirus; some are already in clinical trials. Scientists have hopes for remdesivir, originally developed for Ebola; chloroquine, an old anti-malaria drug; and some anti-H.I.V. and immune-boosting drugs. Many other drugs are also lined up for trials.

Even without proven treatment, the coronavirus may be less lethal than was originally feared, so long as health care systems are not overwhelmed. In South Korea and in China outside Hubei Province, about 0.8 percent of those known to be infected died, and the rate was 0.6 percent on a cruise ship.

But:

By some counts, the United States is just eight days behind Italy on a similar trajectory, and it’s difficult to see how America can pirouette from the path of Italy to that of South Korea. The United States may already have 100,000 infected citizens — nobody knows. That’s too many to trace. Indeed, one can argue that the U.S. is not only on the same path as Italy but is also less prepared, for America has fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita than Italy does — and a shorter life expectancy even in the best of times.

Sounds a bit ominous. And I hate to think what may happen when Covid-19 gets going in Africa.

eNCA: Africa coronavirus cases to rise as some undetected

Africa will likely see higher numbers of coronavirus cases in coming weeks because of the likelihood some are slipping through the net, the head of a regional disease control body said.

“We are picking (up) some people but we are also missing some people,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is a branch of the African Union bloc.

“The situation will get worse before it gets better because the chances are clear that people have slipped through.”

That’s a worry around the world, including here in New Zealand. Even if we manage to contain it and prevent community spread we will have a problem as soon as we re-open our borders. Our lives for the rest of the year are going to be markedly different to anything we could have imagined.

Just one town: Wanaka on the brink

Businesses are shuttering in the picturesque South Island town as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll.

“The mood is pretty sombre. Businesses are laying off staff and some are closing even if just to avoid the risks posed by tourists who have not self isolated.”

Domestic tourism made up about 40 per cent of visitors to Wanaka and Helmore said they were pinning their hopes on the ski season going ahead.

The ski season won’t start for three months, if there’s enough snow and Covid border restrictions are lifted (and if we are allowed to travel internally by then).

And there’s a real chance it could be worse here already than we know – Man who tested positive for Covid-19 could not get through to helpline for four days

Tūwharetoa Trust Board has confirmed one of its staff members, Te Mahau Kingi, tested positive for the virus after returning to Auckland from London via Dubai on 12 March.

He then flew to Taupō on 14 March, self-isolated and was tested on Tuesday. His results came back positive on Friday evening.

That’s a flight into the country and an internal flight before self-isolating. And then four days wait, then another two days before tested positive before contact tracking would have begun.

I know a nurse who works in an elderly care hospital who was off work last week with flu-like symptoms. She tried to get tested but they said it wasn’t required as she had not had contact with anyone who had been travelling recently. She was allowed to go back to work.

 

Italy data shows elderly and those already ill at most risk

An analysis of deaths on Italy adds weight to what was already known – the elderly (especially over 70) and people with existing illnesses are most at risk from of dying from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The average age of victims was 80.5 in the group being studied and 79.5 overall.

One specific problem I’ve been told about (from a health source) is that there are cases where people put on ventilators have appeared to recover, are taken off the ventilator and then die due to stress on their heart.

MSN/Bloomberg: 99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is evaluating whether to extend a nationwide lockdown beyond the beginning of April, daily La Stampa reported Wednesday. Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of the illness.

a close up of a logo: Italy Coronavirus Deaths

The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions.

More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.

The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5.

But the biggest risk appears to be age (as people get older they tend to acquire illnesses) – especially to the 70+ age group.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Threat to the Elderly

 

As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease.

So a very low number of younger people.

All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.

While data released Tuesday point to a slowdown in the increase of cases, with a 12.6% rise, a separate study shows Italy could be underestimating the real number of cases by testing only patients presenting symptoms.

According to the GIMBE Foundation, about 100,000 Italians have contracted the virus, daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported. That would bring back the country’s death rate closer to the global average of about 2%.

So it looks like if you are healthy and under about 70 then the risks are low.

But people with existing illnesses, especially if they are over 70, are high risk.

This means that those people in particular should be especially cautious about what they do to help ensure that don’t catch the virus. Many people are self isolating to protect themselves.