Covid-19 daily newsletter

You can subscribe to a daily newsletter which comes out late afternoon pretty much with the information released at the 1pm and 3pm media conferences.


Daily COVID-19 update from the New Zealand Government

2 April 2020

Stay at home. Break the Chain. Save Lives.

Latest news

  1. The total number of cases is 797, with 89 new or probable cases confirmed within the last 24 hours. 92 people have recovered. For the latest numbers visit the Ministry of Health website.
  2. Foreign nationals in New Zealand can now drive, or take domestic flights, to connect with commercial or chartered international flights to return home. Strict measures are in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission and to protect the public. For more information, including the criteria foreign nationals must meet in order to take a domestic flight within New Zealand, visit our website.
  3. Essential workers who take leave to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they continue to receive income. The scheme supports those who are unable to work from home and need to self-isolate, are at higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19, or have a higher risk person in their household. More information on the essential workers leave scheme can be found on the Beehive website.
  4. A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ – which is free to use on any mobile device – will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. Click here to set up the channel.
  5. If you’re healthy and under 70, please visit the supermarket instead of shopping online. This will keep home delivery slots free for the people who need them most. When visiting the store, retain social distancing of 2 metres, and wash your hands before and after shopping. You can find out more about how to shop safely on our website.

Answers to common questions

Q. Do I need to wear a face mask when I leave the house?

A. You don’t need to wear a face mask when you leave the house. Face masks are essential for front line medical staff, but not the most effective way for the public to protect themselves against COVID-19.

The virus is spread by droplets so the best action you can take is to wash your hands regularly and make sure you don’t touch your face particularly your eyes, nose or mouth. For more information on how you can stay safe, visit our website.

Q. What is the criteria for getting tested for COVID-19?

A. If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, please call your GP, or Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs).

The criteria for testing has been updated to include anyone with respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19. This is regardless of whether somebody has been overseas or not. This will result in more testing, which we’re prepared for. The criteria is a guide for health professionals, who will continue to use their clinical judgement to decide when people need to get tested.

Q. How can I get financial help? 

A. If you’ve lost your job or had your hours reduced you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income.

There is help available for urgent costs like:

  • food
  • accommodation costs (rent, mortgage, board, emergency housing)
  • repairs or replacing appliances
  • emergency dental treatment
  • emergency medical treatment
  • water tank refill

You can find more information about financial support (including eligibility criteria) on the Work and Income website.

Work and Income call centres are experiencing very high demand at the moment, so we recommend you check the website first.  If you don’t have access to the internet you can call us on 0800 559 009.

Financial Support – Wage Subsidy Scheme

The wage subsidy is to help keep your businesses going if they face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19. If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or are self-employed you may qualify. The subsidy is a lump sum payment for the employer to pass on to employees and covers 12 weeks per employee.

For more information including how to apply for the Wage Subsidy Scheme visit the Work and Income website.

For more FAQs, visit our website.

Resources
  • Call Healthline if you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms: 0800 358 5453
  • For any other COVID-19 related queries, contact the government helpline: 0800 779 997
  • Need to talk? Call or text 1737
  • Essential business enquiries essential@mbie.govt.nz or 0800 22 66 57
  • Report breaches of self-isolation 105.police.govt.nz

Stay up to date on all the latest information on our websiteFacebook and Instagram.

Daily update Thursday +89, 797 total cases

89 new cases (76 new confirmed and 13 probable). Total now 797.

So this has jumped back up and may be the highest daily increase so far.

13 in hospital, 2 stable in ICU.

1 death total.

92 recovered.

51% now linked directly to overseas travel, that’s coming down, 31% linked to existing cases. 1% only categorised as community travel, but 17% still being investigated and many are likely to be community transmission.

Tests yesterday 2563, total 26,015. Daily capacity now 4,000.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield said NZ isn’t at the turn around point yet – with the biggest number of cases and tests done in one day.

He said that elimination doesn’t mean we will get rid of Covid-19 forever and we may not be able to all step down to level 3 at the same time. Some regions may change levels at different times.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush talks about breaches of ‘stay at home’ and mentions Kaitaia as a problem area with more police being sent there.

He also says there has been a spike in domestic violence. But there is presumably a big drop in public violence.

Summary

As at 9.00 am, 2 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 723 76
Number of probable cases 74 13
Number of confirmed and probable cases 797 89
Number of cases in hospital 13
Number of recovered cases 92 10
Number of deaths 1

* Note – a person is defined as recovered if they have been without symptoms for 48 hours.

Total cases of COVID-19 in NZ by age

Total cases by ethnicity

Ethnicity No. of cases
Asian 63
European or Other 569
Māori 56
Middle Eastern / Latin American / African 21
Pacific People 23
Unknown 65

Meanwhile the latest international stats show that the US constitutes about a third of the daily new cases, and a quarter of the daily death increase.

Court of Appeal: “no constitutional right to bear arms”

A political party (Kiwi Party) has failed in a legal claim that the Magna Cart and Treaty of Waitangi provide for a  constitutional right to bear arms.

Immediately following the Christchurch mosque massacre in March 2019 New Zealand firearms laws were tightened.

The Kiwi Party was formed and tried to oppose restrictions of ownership of semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines through the courts. The Crown applied to the High Court to have their 12 causes of action to be struck out and succeeded on claims 2-12.

The Kiwi Party took it to the Court of Appeal and amongst other things “argued that New Zealanders need access to semi-automatic weapons in order to match police fire power should the police resort to unlawful use of firearms against New Zealand citizens”

The Court of found these claims “were untenable and cannot possibly succeed”.

The Arms (Military Style Semi-automatic Firearms) Order 2019 (theOrder), was passed by the Executive on 21 March 2019 pursuant to s 74A(c) of the Arms Act 1983 (the Act) and remained in place for 21 days

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019 (the Amendment Act) took effect from 12 April 2019.

In addition to revoking the Order, the Amendment Act imposed restrictions on licensed arms dealers, amended the endorsement provisions under the Act and made it an offence to sell, supply or possess any prohibited firearms, magazines or gun parts, including semi-automatic firearms. The Amendment Act put in place a Government buy-back arrangement for the prohibited firearms, magazines and gun parts.

The legislature’s response to the events of 15 March 2019 was not, however, universally approved. The Kiwi Party was formed by a group of licensed firearms holders with the aim of challenging the lawfulness of the Order and Amendment Act.

Statement of Claim

Twelve causes of action are pleaded in the statement of claim filed in the High Court by the Kiwi Party. Those causes of action seek declarations and orders for, amongst other pronouncements, that the Amendment Act has “no force of law until validated by a subsequent general election or by referendum”.

A fundamental part of their claim was:

The Amendment Act breaches the Treaty of Waitangi, rights to private property, the Bill of Rights 1688; and is “unconstitutional” because it contravenes the “right to bear arms [which] is coincident with the balance of powers in English society”.

Does New Zealand recognise a constitutional right to bear arms?

Underpinning almost all aspects of the Kiwi Party’s case is the claim that New Zealand citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms and in particular, weapons, magazines and gun parts that have been prohibited by the Amendment Act.

This so-called constitutional right is said to be derived from ancient custom, which evolved into a common law right and was affirmed by Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights 1688 and the Treaty of Waitangi. In his supplementary submissions filed on 20 March Mr Minchin, counsel for the Kiwi Party, maintained ‘the right to bear arms is the practical application of the legal principles that ‘no power is unfettered’ and is the mark of a free society”.

Mr Minchin, submitted that New Zealanders need to be able to exercise their “constitutional right” to access semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines in order to be able to effectively defend themselves against any unlawful use of arms by agents of the Crown or Executive.

In particular, he argued that New Zealanders need access to semi-automatic weapons in order to match police fire power should the police resort to unlawful use of firearms against New Zealand citizens.

Mr Minchin acknowledged the “ugliness” of the proposition he was advancing.

But:

An examination of the constitutional instruments relied upon by Mr Minchin quickly exposes the fallacy of his argument that New Zealanders have a constitutional right to bear arms.

The obvious lacuna in this aspect of the case advanced for the Kiwi Party is that it assumes British subjects had an unbridled right to bear arms. As we have already noted, there was no such right. Any ability for a citizen to bear arms has, at least since 1689, been able to be regulated by laws passed by Parliament.

The court points out that the UK, Canada and Australia all have significant firearms regulations and limitations.

It is striking that the so-called right to bear arms is not referred to in any international human rights instrument, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the European Convention on Human Rights. Of the 190 countries that have a written constitution, only the constitutions of Guatemala, Mexico and the United States refer to a right to bear arms.

The relevant parts of the constitutions of Guatemala and Mexico are modelled on the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution but expressly provide for limits according to law. Thus, it can be fairly said that the right to bear arms is an example of American constitutional exceptionalism.

Even in the United States, the ability of a citizen to possess and use firearms may be subject to legislative control. Thus, assault weapons have been banned by seven State legislatures, including those in California and New York.

The Court’s conclusions:

Our examination of the arguments advanced by Mr Minchin leads to the following conclusions:

(a) The so-called right to bear arms is not supported by any constitutional instruments that apply in New Zealand.

(b) In this country, as in almost all countries, a citizen’s ability to possess, own and use firearms is regulated by legislation.

(c) There are only three countries which have some form of constitutional right to bear arms.

(d) There is no constitutional right to bear arms in New Zealand let alone the arms that are prohibited by the Amendment Act.

Conclusion

The second to twelfth causes of action are untenable and cannot possibly succeed. The High Court therefore correctly struck out those causes of action.

The appeal is dismissed.

Judgment: THE KIWI PARTY INC v ATTORNEY-GENERAL [2020] NZCA 80 [24 March 2020]

Trump warns of “a very painful two week period” but…

Donald Trump’s ‘beautiful Easter Sunday’ aspiration seems a long time ago (it was last week).

Yesterday White House predicts 100,000 to 240,000 will die in US from coronavirus

President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus cases, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the U.S. is facing a “very, very painful two weeks.”

“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday. White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks. “When you look at night, the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.”

He has been more on message with his health experts, but he is still saying some strange things.

President Trump Warns Of Coronavirus Apex: “This Is Going To Be A Very Painful Two Week Period”

“As a nation, we face a difficult two weeks as we approach that really important day when we’re going to see things get better, all of a sudden,” he said. “And it is going to be like a burst of light, I think, or I hope.”

It seems unlikely things will suddenly get better in two weeks. Italy and Spain are still struggling with high daily death rates and deaths are surging round Europe.

The US has  a huge problem looming in some states, in particular New York, but the virus has spread around the country at different rates, so it is likely to peak at different times.

It’s more likely to be a very painful month or two in the US at least.

Total cases in the US are now over 200,000, jumping by 24,742 yesterday (GMT) – that’s a third of the recorded world wide rise (73,770).

Deaths jumped to 912 for a total of 4,053 yesterday afternoon (now 4,528). That’s an alarming rise rate.

Source of stats https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

 

 

Certain and uncertain consequences of Covid lockdown

The lockdown of New Zealand will have some obvious consequences, but other consequences are less certain.

The near isolation of most people in their homes with some exceptions and exemptions will reduce the spread of the virus in the short term at least, and should keep the death toll lower than it would otherwise have been. The longer term health outcomes are less certain, it is dependent on short term success, improvements in treatment and the time taken to develop an effective vaccine.

It is certain there will be a substantial impact on the economy and an increase in unemployment. It is unknown how bad, and for how long – we don’t know if the economy will bounce back or if we will be in for a protracted recession, or whether it will deteriorate into a depression.

Sport was a prominent early casualty of the virus, and the flow on effect will be substantial for a year or two at least. Many sports have shut down for the short term at least. The Olympic Games have been delayed by a year.

There are other certainties and uncertainties. One significant uncertainty is how long the lockdown will be in place, and if it is relaxed by how much and for how long. For example we may be allowed to go back to work but still need to limit travel around the country.

Road toll

The lockdown means far fewer vehicles on the streets and roads, and shorter trips, so the road toll will come down for a while at least. There are already signs of this – the number of deaths from 1 January to 1 April 2020 are already down slightly, being 84 (for the same period in the four previous years the toll was 90, 92, 105, 100).

Drownings

There is likely to be reduction in the number of deaths by drowning at least for the duration of the lockdown. Over the last three years total deaths have been 92, 78, 82.

Accidental and workplace deaths

Deaths in the workplace will reduce significantly while the lockdown is in place.In the year to January 2020 there were an average of 9.4 deaths per month, with 10 bin both last March and April.

Accidental deaths will probably also reduce, but they could still occur at home as people do more work on houses and rooves without being able to get scaffolding.

Suicides

It’s uncertain what the overall effect of the lockdown will have on our suicide rate.Some people will be more stressed, some will be less stressed. Being confined to home won’t stop some going out and at least trying, but the lockdown will reduce opportunities and increase contact and surveilance of at risk people.

There were a record 685 recorded suicides in the year to June 2019.

Relationships

The lockdown effect on relationships will be uneven and uncertain. Some relationships will be more stressed, some may benefit from more time together. Being confined to home during the lockdown their may be a lag in relationship breakups.

There will be less temptation and opportunity for infidelity and jealousy.

Family Time

Some parents and children will benefit from having enforced time together

Infectious and Communicable Diseases

Following on from the effect on relationships, there is likely to be less promiscuity and fewer sexually transmitted diseases.

It won’t just be the spread of Covid-19  that is limited, the lockdown will also reduce the cold, flu, hepatitis, measles and all other communicable diseases.

Schools being closed will improve the health of kids, and nits should be contained more than usual.

Other Health Issues

Along with the lockdown hospitals have geared up for treating Covid-19 patients by reducing operations and treatments. There could be a negative impact on health, which could result in more deaths from delayed or unavailable treatment and delayed diagnosis and detection of diseases.

Media

Traditional commercial media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – were already struggling and in decline. They will be severely impacted by the hit to business activity, which has taken most of their revenue away (ironically while getting a big boost in readership and audience).


This is just some of the things that will be impacted by the Covid lockdown. It will take a year or two to quantify some of the impacts, and some impacts may never be quantified.

There are some certainties but many uncertainties, and there will be both positive and negative outcomes.

We are stuck with what we have got for now, we should be doing what we can to make something out of the change in opportunities – including not grumping and grizzling too much about things we can’t change..

Open Forum – Thursday 2 April

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Strategic shift from mitigation to suppression of Covid-19

New Zealand appears to be shifting from mitigation (“flatten the curve”) of the Covid-19 to “one of stamping it out and elimination” of the coronavirus until a vaccine is developed – “which is at least January 2021″.

From WRITTEN BRIEFING TO THE EPIDEMIC RESPONSE COMMITTEE (from John Ombler, All of Government Controller)

Standing up the national response to COVID-19

1. In the two months since the National Security System was first established in response to COVID-19 (January 27), there have been several significant and fast paced actions taken to ensure the leadership and organisation of the national response to COVID-19 is appropriately configured for the magnitude of the event. These actions have been taken to:

  • respond to the growing magnitude of the challenge that COVID-19 presents to New Zealand and New Zealanders
  • respond to a strategic shift from mitigation or “flatten the curve” approach to the current stamp it out and elimination strategy
  • broaden and deepen the national effort to increase the pace of delivery for a series of critical interventions and measures.

9. We have made a key strategic shift from a strategy of mitigation to one of stamping it out and elimination. We do not want to end up in a scenario of widespread outbreaks which would significantly overwhelm the health system, as we have seen in Italy, Spain and other countries that have experienced extensive outbreaks. Our current strategy centres around breaking the chain of community transmission through tougher public health measures, in particular intense physical distancing and travel restrictions, which are set out in Alert Level 4.

10. The strategy does incur significant economic and social disruption, but if we are successful at eliminating COVID-19 from New Zealand we will have better economic and social outcomes. Widespread outbreaks would lead to major health, economic and social impacts for New Zealand.

COVID-19 Mitigation versus suppression

  • Our strategy is focusing on keeping COVID-19 out, stamping it out and slowing it down.
  • Our aim is to prevent widespread outbreaks. Allowing widespread outbreaks (ie trajectories along the orange and blue curves (‘flattening the curve’)) will significantly overwhelm the health system.
  • The strategy centres on border restrictions, intense testing, aggressive contact tracing, and stringent self-isolation and quarantine.
  • Physical distancing will also be required to varying degrees as we continue along this path.
  • We can call this a suppression strategy.
  • Should outbreaks occur, a suppression strategy aims to reverse epidemic growth through tougher public health measures – eg by more intense physical distancing and travel restrictions.
  • The aim is to ensure that health system capacity is not exceeded through strengthening public health measures.
  • When cases fall, public health measures can be eased slightly.
  • This cycle repeats itself (refer squiggly green line).
  • However, we must still prepare for times when capacity of the health system is exceeded by having ‘surge’ options.
  • A suppression strategy does incur significant economic and social disruption. Longer periods of physical distancing, including school closures, will be required.
  • However, many lives will be saved and more people remain well so are able to operate the economy and the health care system.
  • We would need to maintain this approach until a vaccine is developed, which is at least January 2021, and/or the global pandemic has passed.
  • This approach is distinct from a mitigation strategy, which focuses on reducing the size of the peak (ie moving from the orange curve to the blue curve).

Daily health update – +61, total 708

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay today.

47 new confirmed, 14 new probable (+61) – total now 708

The increase is similar to yesterday (58) so even with more testing the case numbers are not growing faster.

2 of 14 in hospital are in intensive care, condition stable

Still just 1 death

82 recovered

Summary

As at 9.00 am, 1 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 647 47
Number of probable cases 61 14
Number of confirmed and probable cases 708 61
Number of cases in hospital
Number of recovered cases 82 8
Number of deaths 1

New case definition for diagnosis and testing will be issued today, still relying on clinical judgment

Anyone with respiratory symptoms regardless of travel history

Capacity 3,700 tests per day, but will increase from 8 to 10 labs by the beginning of next week.

 

Still a lot of flights

https://www.flightradar24.com/

Some have criticised New Zealand for being slow in closing our borders, but we seem to have been far better at isolating ourselves than other countries.

If you zoom in there’s actually about half a dozen flights currently in New Zealand.

The amount of US air activity is remarkable.

This could be changing – Americans face nearly unprecedented travel restrictions inside US as states rush to stem coronavirus tide

As more and more Americans fall ill with the coronavirus and President Trump warns it will peak sometime in April, states nationwide are moving quickly to implement travel restrictions on people coming in from other parts of the country, regulating the interstate travel of Americans to an extent not seen in modern American history.

Rhode Island was one of the first states to implement restrictions on Americans coming from a coronavirus hot spot by mandating that any New Yorkers traveling to the state self-quarantine for 14 days.

That restriction led New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to threaten to sue as the Rhode Island National Guard went door-to-door in the state to tell New Yorkers about their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“I understand the goal … but there’s a point of absurdity, and I think what Rhode Island did is at that point of absurdity,” Cuomo said. “We have to keep the ideas and the policies we implement positive rather than reactionary and emotional.”

Or not.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, announced Sunday that he would require visitors to his state from anywhere in Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days after previously mandating such a quarantine for travelers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans. He also included air travelers from California, Washington state, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami in the new mandatory self-quarantine.

Florida has required anyone entering the state from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days while also setting up roadside checkpoints to screen travelers entering the state from Louisiana. Oklahoma ordered all travelers from six different states to quarantine for 14 days. Alaska has required “all people” entering the state to self-quarantine. Montana issued an almost identical directive Monday. So did Massachusetts on Friday.

Some stable doors being closed, but well after the virus has bolted.

This charts flight activity for the year, with an obvious recent drop:

Total and Commercial traffic in 2020

Why were we slow to increase Covid-19 testing?

A number of Governments around the world have been criticised for their lack of testing for the Covid-19 virus. This may have helped the virus spread undetected in communities.

Some countries like Italy and Spain had so many serious cases to deal with they didn’t have sufficient resources to test.

The US and UK were both slow to ramp up testing.

It is apparent in some places that the horse had bolted before comprehensive testing at the stable was started.

The spread of the virus and the actions taken by countries including here has been a rapidly changing situation, perhaps governments have struggled to keep up with demand, or perhaps governments are just too slow to act in emergencies like this (although the modern world has not experienced a virus like Covid-19).

New Zealand was also slow off the mark, limiting testing to people with Covid symptoms AND some link to international travel. Last week testing rates were increased, but only yesterday it was announced that the criteria for testing would be widened.  But even the highest risk group, travellers coming into the country, were not all tested (I suspect that there were too many too handle at the time).

This is despite medical experts and academics calling for far more testing.

The prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been criticised for possibly misleading the country over testing. Her first official release on Covid-19 was Saturday 14 March (just two and a half weeks go).  From Major steps taken to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19

  • Every person entering New Zealand from anywhere in the world will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, excluding the Pacific [i]. ‘
  • These restrictions will all be reviewed in 16 days’ time.
  • Existing travel ban retained for China and Iran
  • Cruise ships banned from coming to New Zealand, until at least 30 June 2020
  • Strict new health measures at the border for people departing to the Pacific
  • A range of measures to assist those in self-isolation to be announced next week
  • Government will work closely with the aviation sector to encourage airlines to remain active in New Zealand, limit impacts on the tourism sector and exporters
  • Directive on mass gatherings to be announced early next week

There was no mention of testing in her statement.

Tuesday 17 March she did mention testing in Economic package to fight COVID-19

“We will be investing in more health staff, more virus testing, more medicines, facemasks, extra intensive care capacity and equipment at hospitals, and more money for GPs. If we can manage the virus we can mitigate the damage to the economy.

The same day in Parliament from 2. Question No. 2—Prime Minister

Hon Simon Bridges: Why are people being denied coronavirus tests when they are displaying symptoms?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I reject the assertion they are. I want to read—

Hon Simon Bridges: Well, they are.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would like to read from the case notes provided to doctors. Under the case definition, it says, “Note”—this is for clinicians—”that due to the ongoing changing global and domestic situation, clinical judgement should apply as to whether someone who doesn’t quite meet the current case definition should be tested or not.” Any person who a clinician thinks needs a test should get a test.

Hon Simon Bridges: So does she deny the email to me from a Wellingtonian and his partner who had all the symptoms and were denied the tests yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I’ve just said, that decision sits with doctors. I will read, again: “due to the ongoing changing [environment], clinical judgement should apply as to whether someone who doesn’t … meet the … case definition should be tested or not.” I cannot be clearer. Any person a doctor believes should be tested can and should be tested. We have the capacity to do up to 1,500 tests a day. My understanding is that we have hundreds of tests currently being processed for which we will have the results tomorrow.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why doesn’t she just guarantee that those who show the clear symptoms will get the testing, as Prime Minister of our country?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’ve just given you the exact advice that is for doctors. Doctors make those decisions, not politicians, but what they have been told is that anyone who they believe should be tested should be tested. I cannot be clearer than that. I cannot make those judgments, but they can, and they should.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why is she only suggesting ramping up tests now after the World Health Organization has called for countries to test, test, test?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is utterly incorrect. We’ve had the capacity to test up to a thousand a day for a very long time.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is she concerned that a comparable country like Norway has tested 8,000 people and we’ve tested less than 600?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the member seems to be upset about where our global standing currently is in terms of case profile. We have, currently, a small number of cases, that have been confirmed through testing. But I expect that we will have many hundreds more tests conducted. In fact, I understand we have hundreds currently being processed this very day.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t the reason we only have a dozen confirmed cases and not dozens and dozens and dozens because under her Government, since the start of the year, we just haven’t done many tests?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is an appalling, appalling statement to make. The implication that tests are being determined by politics is appalling. Doctors are making the call, and they are being told that if they believe they should test, they should. I cannot be clearer about the advice that has been provided by the Ministry of Health; it is in black in white—in fact, it is in bold.

Hon Dr David Clark: Is the Prime Minister aware that Norway currently has 1,200 confirmed cases of the virus, and is in Europe, which has been described as the epicentre of the outbreak?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes. In those cases, you would expect, therefore, that the contact tracing and symptoms would therefore lead to the other testing outcomes that they have. It seems extraordinary to me that the suggestion seems to be that there is disappointment about where we are. Hundreds of tests are being processed today. Very unfortunately, we will see—[Interruption] We will see more—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can I just ask members on both sides—this is a very serious issue, and petty calling back and forth from both sides ill behoves the House.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that the reason, say, Norway has many more confirmed cases is because they have done many, many thousands more tests, and that’s where we needed to be weeks ago.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, I reject that, and I again confirm I have just been advised there are 500 tests currently being processed. That capacity has always existed, but we have allowed doctors to make that decision, not politicians.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will she apologise to New Zealanders who have been previously denied a test under her Government last month, the month before, and as little ago as yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No one who a doctor believes should be tested should have been denied a test.

Ardern said “there are 500 tests currently being processed”. The average tests over the past week is 1,777 daily as of yesterday when more testing was called for by Ardern.

That same day from Question No. 10—Health

Dr Shane Reti: Does New Zealand coronavirus testing align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to test all older people with symptoms who also have heart conditions; if not, why not?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The member will have heard from the Prime Minister earlier in today’s House session that all primary-care workers who are so qualified are being encouraged to test if they have any clinical suspicion.

Dr Shane Reti: What is the weakest point in the health system for coronavirus management, and how can we help?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: It’s misinformation, and members of the Opposition can help by making sure that they are pointing people toward the Ministry of Health website, where the most up-to-date and correct information is on hand. They can share that widely, and I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Two days after that a nurse I know who works in an age care hospital had flu-like symptoms and south a test but ws told she didn’t need one, and could return to work the following Saturday.

Also on 17 March – Jacinda Ardern urges clinicians to do more COVID-19 testing: ‘We have the capacity’

The Prime Minister is urging clinicians to conduct more testing for the coronavirus COVID-19 insisting New Zealand has the capacity to do 1500 tests per day.

“Our capacity is significant. We’re ramping up the ability to have up to 1500 tests per day,” Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday. “That test number you’ve been seeing per day happening in the community is growing day on day.”

It comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) pleaded for countries to ramp up testing of every suspected coronavirus COVID-19 case as it warns children are dying of the illness.

Several more media releases by Ardern didn’t mention testing, including the big announcement on Saturday 21 March – Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Two days later on Monday 23 March from Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased:

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.

Ardern made several more media statements since then with no mention of testing.

Wednesday 25 March from Returning New Zealanders will be tested for Covid-19

New Zealand borders will be open for returning New Zealanders but all of them will be screened at their port of arrival, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

“All incoming passengers will be tested and anyone found systematic will be quarantined in a facility. All others will be asked to go into self-isolation. The Police will monitor them and anyone found violating the order will be fined and quarantined,” she said.

Yesterday (31 March) – Covid-19: More testing needed, Ardern says

The number of tests for coronavirus is set to ramp up, with health officials relaxing the testing criteria as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for more testing to be done.

New Zealand’s testing regime has been under scrutiny for some time, with people complaining of being turned away despite medical recommendations they get tested.

The matter was at the fore during the inaugural meeting of the epidemic response committee earlier on Tuesday, where Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield indicated a change was coming.

Now, Ardern has confirmed the technical advisory group overseeing the case definition of Covid-19 had agreed to expand it to include people who had symptoms potentially indicative of the virus, but without a link to overseas travel or a close contact who had tested positive.

The new advice would be circulated to Healthline, GPs and community clinics, with the Prime Minister expressing a desire to see testing levels ramp up further.

“I want more tests, we’ve built the capacity for more tests, more tests will only allow us to get a better picture of the spread of Covid-19.”

However, she pushed back when asked why the Government had not made such a change earlier, saying New Zealand had already been conducting a high level of tests relative to other countries.

The rapidly spreading and dangerous Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health emergency and has been very difficult for governments to deal with. One thing we should get is open and honest information. Questions remain about the slow lift in testing for the virus.

3,500 tests are now being done per day with plans to lift it to 5,000 a day but we may need more. This is being discussed now on RNZ:

Michael Baker, an epidemiologist from the University of Otago, tells Morning Report that although the shutdown has been very tough on people, it’s the right move from the government and they acted in a nick of time to get Covid-19 under control.

Prof Baker says that as we start to test more, we could see the number of cases rise dramatically.

He said more about testing, may have to wait for the audio.

Minister of Health David Clark is just being asked about this on RNZ,

The Minister of Health David Clark tells Morning Report the government asked the Ministry of Health to revisit their criteria for testing.

“We need to continue to ramp our testing, absolutely, and we are,” David Clark says.

He acknowledges there are valid questions that need answers about testing but that should be directed at clinicians who decide on who should be tested. He is waffling around the question.

He said current testing capacity is 3,700 per day.

Clark is already being questioned about the number of ventilators, he doesn’t sound assured or confident answering but says we have the capacity for about 500 ventilators with about another 200 ordered.

Public and private hospitals have about 750 ventilators between them.

It is a relatively low number per capita – with only 4.7 intensive care beds per 100,000 people compared to 35 per 100,000 in the United States and 29 in Germany.

Doctors have warned if Covid-19 pushes up demand so that 3000-4000 patients need ICU treatment at any one time, current capacity would be overwhelmed.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/413111/covid-19-nz-sources-more-ventilators-amid-rampant-global-demand