Urge for immediate Level 1 based on leaked Cabinet paper

A number of politicians have been pushing for an immediate move to Covid Alert Level 1, notably from party leaders David Seymour, Winston Peters and Todd Muller

Calls increased after large #blacklivesmatter demonstrations on Monday failed to observe number limits or effective social distancing.

A leaked Cabinet paper has added weight to arguments for a faster wind down of restrictions.

ODT:  Leak fires up calls for Level 1

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is being urged to move into Alert Level 1 immediately in light of criteria in a leaked Cabinet paper that includes a 28-day window of no community transmission.

The most recent such case was reported on April 30, 34 days ago, but director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield has said the last cases of concern were actually from about two months ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and National Party leader Todd Muller, who quoted the Cabinet paper during Question Time yesterday, both used the community transmission criteria to push for a hastened move to Level 1.

But Ms Ardern is standing firm on making an announcement on Monday, saying there are other factors in the decision.

Ardern has said that level changes have been based on health and other advice received, but this make sit look like they hav been more cautious than advised.

From Question Time: 2. Question No. 2—Prime Minister

Todd Muller: Why is she so reticent to move to alert level 1, when Dr Ashley Bloomfield has said there is—and I quote—”no evidence of community transmission in New Zealand”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m acting on the advice of director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield. He is the one giving us the guidance to remain where we are. He has expressed comfort with us making that consideration on 8 June, but that is not an accurate reflection of his views.

Todd Muller: Is it correct that—and I quote—”from a public health perspective alert level 1 means there has been a period of more than 28 days with no new cases of COVID-19 caused by community transmission and there is an extremely low public health risk from the virus”, as is says in the paper I have here in her name titled COVID-19 Alert Level Controls, which I understand was discussed at Cabinet yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member knows that we have made fully and widely available the settings of alert level 1, 2, 3, and 4, and in the criteria for decision making it does say, “trends in the transmission of the virus, with the threshold varying by alert level, including the director-general’s confidence in the data.” So, yes, we’ve included a period where we haven’t had cases—keeping in mind we’re only up to 12 days presently—but also the number of days where we haven’t had a case from community transmission, which was roughly about a month ago now. But that is not the only criteria. The director-general has to be confident in the data. We know there is asymptomatic transmission. We know there is a long tail. I would rather move once, do it right, and not continue to risk our economy.

But this ignores the risk to the economy of limiting the ability businesses to operate at full capacity. The longer the restrictions, the the greater the risk of businesses closing and and jobs being lost.

Todd Muller: When was New Zealand’s last case of community transmission?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I just said, it was at the beginning of May. However, that was not the last case that we had, which was, from memory, 12 days ago. I have to say I am alarmed at the suggestion from the member that, even with some of the loosest restrictions in the world, the member would still be willing to act against the advice of the Director-General of Health, open up before he has advised that we do so, and put at risk the huge effort and sacrifice of New Zealanders. I would rather do it once and do it right.

What Ardern is saying appears to be at odds with advice given by Bloomfield in advice given to Cabinet.

Todd Muller: To the Prime Minister: how can you match that answer with the fact that on 20 May you said—and I quote—”the last case of community transmission where the source was unknown was early April.”? That means we’ve had now three full cycles of transmission with no community transmission cases in New Zealand—60 days since—

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We had a case that was linked to overseas travel but the overseas travel was outside the period of infection. So the view was that it could either have been community transmission or overseas travel. Again, the member forgets that that is but one of many criteria that we take into consideration, and we must listen to the advice not only of the scientists and epidemiologists but also the Director-General of Health. If the member thinks he knows more than all of them combined, I congratulate him, but I would rather listen to the advice, get it right, and not risk our economy.

As happened also on Tuesday, Ardern had started answering questions with poise, but she seemed to getting increasingly annoyed with the persistent questioning from Muller.

I think Muller has been holding Ardern to account effectively here. Some seem to think each question should result in the resignation of the Minister or Government, but our system never works like that.

Some assistance popped up for Ardern:

Hon Chris Hipkins: Has the Prime Minister been advised that as recently as yesterday Australian states were reporting new cases of community transmission, and will the Government take that into consideration when considering the Opposition’s urging to reopen the border with Australia with urgency?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes. We of course are mindful of the impacts of every restriction on our economy, on our businesses, but I equally will not jeopardise the gains and sacrifices made by those businesses by either opening us before we’re ready or moving alert levels before we’re ready. I reflect on the comments made by a small-business owner that they would rather live with the restrictions now than risk going back later on.

Ardern is trying to swim against the public tide here.

Todd Muller: Prime Minister, isn’t it time for a captain’s call on level 1 so that a team of 5 million New Zealanders can get back to rebuilding this country and recovering their jobs?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have proudly made captain’s calls all the way through and it is one of the reasons that, alongside our team of 5 million, we are the envy of the world in terms of our position right now. I stand by every call I’ve made and that’s why we are waiting until 8 June.

Muller has managed to get Ardern to take responsibility for “captain’s calls” on lockdown restrictions and the slow and ultra cautious return to business activity.

Todd Muller: To the Prime Minister, why wait till midnight Wednesday, when the whole country needs us to be in level 1 today?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because the whole country needs us to not go backwards. The whole country needs us to move once and to do it right, and the whole country wants to move with confidence. The member does a disservice when he explains that the decision-making process is as simplistic as he describes—it is not. We factor in a range of issues, including economic impact, including compliance, including transmission, and our unknowns. And I stand by every decision we have made to date.

Moving fairly quickly into lockdown in March was supported by a lot of the public, but Ardern is at increasing risk of getting out of step with public sentiment now the risks seem to have moved to negligible.

Ardern kept referring to things like “The director-general has to be confident in the data” and “We factor in a range of issues, including economic impact, including compliance, including transmission, and our unknowns.”

This makes me wonder if Ardern and Cabinet (excluding Winston Peters who has been calling for level 1 since last week) are putting a lot of weight on statistical analysis of data.

There will always be unknowns, and there will always be a statistical margin of error – statistics doesn’t work with 100% certainty.

 

Another double failure in Nottingham v Ardern

Dermot Nottingham has again had a double failure in court after another attempt in his legal actions against Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and Sarah Stuart-Black. This time he tried to recall the original judgment against him in the High Court, despite it also being dealt with by a higher court.

This isn’t the first time Nottingham has used different ways of trying to overturn judgments, and of trying to have a proceeding dealt with in a lower court than where the last decision was made.

In April (judgment 23 April 2020) Dermot Nottingham and Robert McKinney took legal action against Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and Sarah Stuart-Black, alleging the Government had subjected them to unlawful detention under the Covid-19 lockdown.

The High Court declined to issue writs of habeas corpus in favour of Nottingham and McKinney, finding that the two men and their families and associates were not detained under the Health Act, and that “habeas corpus is not the appropriate procedure for considering their allegations”.

Both Nottingham and McKinney appealed, but the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court and dismissed the appeals, and said that the actions should not have been personally against the prime Minister or Director-General of Health and were told to make that correction if taking the matter further.

At the time of the application Nottingham was legally detained  as he was serving a term of home detention after being convicted in 2018 of criminal harassment and breaching name suppression orders, but during the process he was granted bail pending a Supreme Court appeal of the length of his sentence (that is due too be heard in the Supreme Court today).

Both men sought name suppression in this case but that was refused and it expired:

It is possible they may receive some unwelcome comments and that they may be upset by what others have to say. Those are, however, not proper grounds for granting them name suppression, even on an interim basis.

See Court of Appeal NOTTINGHAM v ARDERN [2020] NZCA 144 [4 May 2020]

The latest decision is in the High Court – NOTTINGHAM v ARDERN [2020] NZHC 1013 [15 May 2020]

Mr Nottingham has applied for recall of my judgment of 23 April 2020, in which I declined his application for a writ of habeas corpus…

The gist of Mr Nottingham’s application is that Crown counsel misled me at the hearing of his application on 17 April 2020. In particular, Mr Nottingham contends Crown counsel misled me in the course of their submissions as to the legality or otherwise of the (now revoked) order of the Director-General of Health issued on 3 April 2020 (“order”). Crown counsel deny misleading me in any way whatsoever.

Mr Nottingham and Crown counsel made detailed submissions for and against the application for recall. However, the critical point is that my judgment has been subject to a concluded appeal, that is the Court of Appeal has both heard and determined Mr Nottingham’s appeal against my judgment. The effect of this is to preclude recall of my judgment.

A fundamental of our legal system is that a lower court cannot deal with something that is before or has been dealt with a higher court.

Quite aside from that, and even if Mr Nottingham could persuade me I was misled as he contends, I would have declined to exercise my discretion to recall the judgement because it would be pointless to do. The matters on which Mr Nottingham seeks to rely do not bear on the determinative issue of whether the effect of the order
was to “detain” him within the meaning of the Act. Thus the outcome post any recall would remain the same.

Nottingham is a lay litigant representing himself, but has extensive experience in the courts. The NZLII database lists 49 decisions involving Nottingham since 2015, and this is just the tip of a legal iceberg as many lower court decisions are not published. He was adjudicated bankrupt in 2018 due to hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid legal costs awarded against him for failed legal proceedings.

 

Daily Covid-19 update

Covid-19 updates happen daily but there are no longer media conferences in the weekend, and I haven’t bothered posting on them every day with not much changing – yesterday the only change in main statistics was 12 more recovered..

Today may be of more interest with questions and hopefully clarifications on confusing rules under the Alert Level 2 lockdown we are switching to tonight. Funeral and tangi restrictions have become a controversial issue.

No new cases again today, so the total remains at 1,497 confirmed and probable cases.

No more deaths, still on 21 – there have been no deaths since 6 May, a week ago.

Another 12 recovered today (total now 1,402 which is 94% of cases), and still 2 people in hospital.

5,961 tests yesterday so no over 200,000 tests, about 4% of the population.


Jacinda Ardern:

Straight into the funeral and tangi issue. Government and Ministry of Health have been discussing this with funeral directors and Iwi leaders.

Funerals are events that cannot easily be postponed. There will still be restrictions but more may be said later in the  day about possible changes.

She then launches into a pre-budget speech. A lot of repeat phrases, but this time also talking about metaphorically moving from winter into spring, which is an odd thing to say as we head into winter.

This budget will be a ‘tailored solution to a specific situation’ – that is, a focus on Covid response.

“When times are hard you don’t cut, you invest”. “Our plan is to invest”.

“…We will strengthen the blanket of support that the state provides”.

“Team of five million” several times.

“Do we return to those settings or is now the time to find a better way?”


Questions lead on funerals which Ardern is well prepared for – working through and agile and incredibly tough and nothing new.

Bloomfield says the Ministry is working through solutions.

Protect but accommodate concerns somehow.

What Ardern said today is officially called  ​​​​​​​Prime Minister’s pre=Budget speech

Daily Covid update – ‘elimination’ goal achieved but sustained effort required

I’ll post details of the daily Covid update here as they become available, but there may be a series of newsworthy things happening through the afternoon:

1.00 pm  – Dr Ashley Bloomfield daily update

1:30 pm – PM Jacinda Ardern’s post-Cabinet media conference

2:00 pm – Ministerial statements at the restart of Parliament

2:45 pm – Question Time in Parliament


Dr Ashley Bloomfield:

3 new cases today (2 confirmed and 2 probable) – total now 1,472

The Ministry of health has achieved their Level 4 goal of ‘elimination’, but it is an ongoing effort under Level 3. This isn’t eradication.

“We are by no means in the clear. Elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort to keep it out and stamp it out over many months.”

Definition:  a small number of cases, knowings exactly where the cases come from, and can quickly contact trace all the cases.

“Keep it out, stamp it out”.

No more deaths – total remains at 18.

Physical distancing remains very important and it’s imperative to maintain it through Level 3.

“Data from the public health units … showed that they were contacting and tracing 80 percent of close contacts within 48 hours, and the benchmark there is actually 72 hours.”

As at 9.00 am, 28 April 2020
Total Change in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,124 2
Number of probable cases 348 1
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,472 3
Number of cases currently in hospital 9 2
Number of recovered cases 1,214 34
Number of deaths 19 0

Total confirmed and probable cases over time


I only half listened to Ardern’s speech at her media conference, there wasn’t anything new or of of any any great importance.

 

Failures with habeas corpus writ against Ardern et al over lockdown ‘detention’

Last Friday an application was heard in the High Court where two men were seeking a writ of habeas corpus against The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claiming they were being illegally detained through the Covid-19 lockdown. Yesterday Judge Peters J delivered her judgment that shows multiple failures in the action.

  • An application to transfer the case to be heard by a full Court of five Judges in the Court of Appeal was declined.
  • A and his family are not subject to detention within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act 2001.
  • If A and his family are detained, the detention is lawful.
  • Application for name suppression based on vague possibilities, declined but extended pending appeal

One of the men, who has interim name suppression and was described as A, appeared in person as the Applicant. He is currently serving a term of home detention unrelated to the pandemic.

Respondents were names as JACINDA ARDERN, ASHLEY BLOOMFIELD AND SARAH STUARTBLACK (represented by Mr Powell).

A, the applicant, submits the terms of order subject him and his family to “detention” within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act 2001 (“Act”). By application of 14 April 2020, A challenges the legality of the detention he alleges and
seeks a writ of habeas corpus, for himself, his partner and two other members of his family. The effect of the issue of the writ would be to release A and his family from the restrictions imposed by the order.

But presumably it wouldn’t release A from home detention.

Transfer to the Court of Appeal

A sought an order transferring his application to the Court of Appeal, ideally to be heard by a full Court of five Judges. A submitted the significance of his application made this an appropriate course.

I declined A’s application. Any decision to transfer a proceeding from the High Court to the Court of Appeal is one for the Court of Appeal, not the High Court.

So that application was pointless in the High Court. And the significance of the application is the poor arguments made.

A’s application raises two issues. The first is whether the terms of the order effect a detention within the meaning of the Act. If so, the second issue is whether the respondents can establish the legality of the detention. If not, I must order A’s and his family’s release.

Detention

The Act defines “detention” as:
detention includes every form of restraint of liberty of the person

A submitted the terms of the order subject him and his family to detention. This is because they may not leave their house for whatever purpose they wish, such as to swim, hunt or tramp, or to travel as they see fit etc, but only for essential personal movement.

In this case, the effect of the order is to limit the purposes for which A and his family may leave their home, and it also limits some forms of interaction with friends and other family.

But, as the respondents submit, A and his family remain free to engage in many of their usual activities. In my view, the freedom to exercise whenever they wish, to go to the supermarket whenever they wish, to talk to whomever they wish, and to access the internet whenever they wish is quite different from being “held in close custody”, which the Court of Appeal said in Drever is required for detention. A greater degree of control of the time and place of movement and/or association would be required.

… I do not consider A and his family are detained within the meaning of the Act by the terms of the order.

Lawfulness

If I am wrong in this, it becomes necessary to consider the lawfulness of the detention.

The order was made pursuant to s 70(1)(f) of the Health Act 1956 (“Health Act”)…

The medical officer of health may make an order under s 70:

(a) for the purpose of preventing the outbreak or spread of any infectious disease; and
(b) if, amongst other things, a state of emergency has been declared or an epidemic notice is in force.

Mr Powell submits, and I accept, these requirements were met in the present case…

Although A did not dispute the pre-requisites in s 70(1) for the making of the order were met — his argument as to the lawfulness of the order being quite different — A did raise a point as to whether s 70(1)(f) permits the Director-General to require everyone in New Zealand to be isolated by staying at home. On this point, A’s submission on the text of s 70(1)(f) was that “persons, places, buildings …” connotes smaller, confined groups of persons, not the entire population.

In response, Mr Powell submitted the word “persons” in s 70(1)(f) is sufficiently broad to cover “all persons within all districts of New Zealand”, being the ambit of the order.

I accept the orders that may be made under s 70(1) are very broad.

As I have said, however, A’s argument as to the proper construction of s 70(1)(f) was not his main submission on the issue of legality. Rather, A submitted the order was unlawful on numerous, quite different grounds.

A submitted the order constituted a gross breach of all New Zealanders’ human rights and “fundamental inalienable freedoms”, such as those conferred by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Act, that, as a matter of principle, it could never be lawful.

A also submitted the order was unlawful because it was “unreasonable”, in the sense there was insufficient evidence to warrant its making in the first instance. He also submitted the evidence that now exists — and which he believes was or might have been foretold — as to hospitalisation and death rates, the sector of the population most likely to be adversely affected (the elderly), and the effects of the “lockdown” on the New Zealand economy render the continuation of the order unlawful, even if its making was lawful, which he refutes.

A also submitted the order was not made for a proper purpose, namely to control the spread of the disease, but for many other extraneous reasons, including to enhance Ms Ardern’s prospects of re-election.

Kiwiblog comments type arguments don’t fit well with a court of law.

I accept the respondents have established any detention effected by the order is lawful, for the reasons in [31] and [35] above. I am also satisfied the arguments A relies on are not suitable for determination on an application for a writ of habeas corpus.

In fact, s 14(1A) of the Act permits the Court to refuse an application for the issue of the writ if satisfied the application is not the appropriate procedure for considering an applicant’s allegations. This is such a case. The appropriate procedure is an application for judicial review.

So a writ of habeas corpus was not an appropriate way to try to deal with this. I hope ‘A’ does not take the court’s suggestion of the appropriate procedure as a signal to try another approach in another action.

…the habeas corpus procedure is not suitable for the arguments A wishes to pursue. His arguments do not go to the lawfulness of any detention but the underlying decision to make the order, which is a different issue.

A and his family are not subject to detention within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act 2001. If I am wrong, and A and his family are detained, the detention is lawful.

Name suppression

A seeks an order for permanent suppression of the publication of his name and other identifying details. A perceives that, in the past, publication of his name in connection with other legal proceedings in which he has been involved has led to death threats against him, and threats to harm him and his family. These threats are distressing to A and his family, and exacerbate serious health conditions affecting all concerned.

Serious health conditions that may make ‘A’ a high risk with Covid-19.

As to why publication of his name in connection with this proceeding would be likely to lead to further threats, A said this has been the general consequence of publication of his name in the past and there is no reason to believe the result will be different on this occasion.

I may make an order prohibiting publication of A’s name and identifying details if necessary to serve the ends of justice.

However, the starting point is a presumption that all aspects of civil court proceedings are subject to disclosure and there must be sound reason to displace that presumption.

I am not persuaded a sound reason exists in this instance. The advice from A, to which I have referred above, was not on oath. I have no other evidence of the threats to which A refers or any evidence of a link between the mere fact of  publication of his name, in connection with any legal proceeding, and the making of any such threat.

Even if such were established, it is for the police to investigate any threat to A and his family, rather than for the Court to prohibit disclosure.

It would seem odd to grant name suppression for claims that something may (or may not) happen in the future.

I therefore decline to make the order for permanent name suppression sought.

A advised me he would wish to appeal any refusal of name suppression. At the end of the hearing, I made an order for interim suppression pending further order of the Court. I continue that order, again subject to further order of the Court, for 20 working days from the date of this judgment to enable A to pursue an appeal if he wishes.

The court has to allow the chance of appeal on suppression so this is standard procedure (appealing isn’t necessarily standard).

INTERIM ORDER PROHIBITING PUBLICATION OF THE NAME,
ADDRESS OR IDENTIFYING PARTICULARS OF THE APPLICANT.

That will be strictly applied here.

The arguments here seem to have been very weak and misconstrued. If it wasn’t for the suppression it could have looked like a lame publicity stunt by someone who has enough knowledge and ignorance of legal procedures to be a time wasting nuisance to the courts.

Full judgment here

Daily Covid-19 update plus Ardern details Alert Level 3 rules

The level 3 rules have been announced, with some relaxation in movement, business and education, and a change for keep local to keep regional, but still quite restricted.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield:

15 new cases (6 confirmed, 9 probable) with the total cases now 1,401

11 of the new cases linked to the currently known clusters.

12 in hospital, 3 in ICU, 2 critical.

42 more recovered, total now 770

3661 tests yesterday, total now 70,160

This morning the Ministry of Health undertook targeted sentinel testing in Queenstown. 300 people were tested for COVID-19 at a supermarket. This will help build a picture of whether there is any community spread in the area. Similar testing will be undertaken in several other centres.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

The aim is still to eliminate the virus. “We have made a good start” but need to prepare for what comes next.

Level 3 is the next step we will move to (they will announce on Monday if we change levels). We will step down to level 3 consistent with eliminating Covid-19.

Principles of Alert level 3 – Restrict

Restrict – there’s a risk of bouncing back but restrict contact as much as possible. This is a hold and wait and see level.

Stay home, save lives, but with key differences aimed to help people and business to move forward.

Keep to your bubble, but you can expand the bubble but keep exclusive and keep it small.

Business will move to safe operations so businesses like construction and forestry will be able to resume if safe practices are adhered to. Some trades will be able to

Bars, restaurants and malls will remain closed, but non face to face transactions can begin, like takeaway foods and online sales.

A partial reopening of education, up to year 10 only (covering 14, the age children need to be supervised) and voluntary only for when parents want to return to work. When able children should remain at home.

Tertiary will as much as possible be done through distance learning.

Travel restrictions remain. ‘Keep local’ will change to ‘keep regional’. Restrict travel to only what is necessary.

Recreation should still be local, and non-motorised. So you can swim, surf and fish from the shore, but no congregation, and don’t start new pastimes.

Funerals can go ahead, maximum 10 people.

Weddings with 10 people maximum can go ahead as services only, no food or receptions.

As a general rule of thumb the 2 metre rule should still apply as much as possible. In limited cases 1 metre is ok.

A return to normal Parliament business is to be considered separately by Parliament.

The aim is to move progressively down the levels and avoid having to go back up again if things deteriorate.

The official blurb will be posted separately.


As at 9.00 am, 16 April 2020
Total Change in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,084 6
Number of probable cases 317 9
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,401 15
Number of cases currently in hospital 12 -1
Number of recovered cases 770 42
Number of deaths 9 0

 

Total cases by DHB, as at 9.00 am, 16 April 2020
DHB Active Recovered Deceased Total Change in last 24 hours
Auckland 60 123 183 1
Bay of Plenty 15 29 44 0
Canterbury 67 70 6 143 -1
Capital and Coast 43 46 2 91 3
Counties Manukau 48 61 109 2
Hawke’s Bay 26 15 41 0
Hutt Valley 7 13 20 0
Lakes 6 9 15 0
Mid Central 10 19 29 1
Nelson Marlborough 18 30 48 0
Northland 18 8 26 0
South Canterbury 8 6 14 1
Southern 74 139 213 0
Tairāwhiti 4 0 4 1
Taranaki 3 11 14 0
Waikato 106 76 182 3
Wairarapa 0 8 8 0
Waitematā 105 100 205 4
West Coast 2 2 1 5 0
Whanganui 3 4 7 0
Total 623 769 9 1401 15

T

Daily Covid update – Sunday

Today’s update from Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield:

Increase of 89 cases, 48 confirmed, 41 probable  – total 1039

15 in hospital, 3 in intensive care, 2 of which are critical – so a deterioration here.

156 recovered

3,093 tests yesterday, total tests 36,209

12 significant clusters with a new cluster in Canterbury (unknown origin, 10 cases) and another in Auckland (unknown origin, 13 cases) but no details given.

As at 9am, 5 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 872 48
Number of probable cases 167 41
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,039 89
Number of cases in hospital 15
Number of recovered cases 156 29
Number of deaths 1

View full details of the confirmed cases.

View details of significant COVID-19 clusters.

Signalling initiatives in the coming week on mental health and wellbeing, and a Maori response action plan.

The positivity rate with expanded testing has remained fairly stable which is a good sign.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

She doesn’t want to draw too many conclusions but the growth in cases has been steady rather than exponential.

She talks about modeling and possible outcomes including possible 4,000 cases by this weekend – we are only a quarter that, probably in part due to the lockdown.

Our case rate and death rate are comparably much better than many other countries, helped by our distance and delayed transmission here.

Our sacrifices are making a difference, but Ardern tells us to stay focused, but their are still concerns about people (a minority) who flout the rules. She refers to some as idiots.

What sort of public health response is best for the economy? Fight the virus. History (eg 1918 Spanish flu) shows that actively and strongly fighting a virus leads to better economic outcome sin the longer term.

Media question: Would you call David Clark an idiot? “I have expressed to him I am very disappointed with him” and “he needs to be a role model”. She expects him to continue to do his job, but when asked about not being available for interviews this weekend she diverts. “Would you expect the key minister to be available for questions?” Yes, but diverts from Clark’s availability.

She said others had fronted, he was at home at lockdown and he would continue to be available for interviews – except that he hasn’t been available.

No plan for a Level 5, “this is as tight as it gets’.

As long as we stick to the rules we should be able to maintain access to the outdoors (on a limited basis).

The alert levels may be reduced in some regions before others, depending on how many cases are in each region – we need to watch the signs (regional and national case trends) that may allow a reduction in restrictions to Level 3 (which isn’t a huge reduction)

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.