Coronavirus cases rise by 13 overnight, total number now 53

breaking By Jessica Tyson

The number of cases of coronavirus in New Zealand has risen by 13 overnight, bringing the total number to 53.

Director-General of the Ministry of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield made the announcement this morning.

“The locations of these cases are four in Wellington, one in Taranaki, three in Auckland, one in Waikato, one in Taupō, two in Manawatū and two in Nelson,” he says.

As well as the total number of 53 cases, there are also four probable cases, Dr Bloomfield says.

“Most of these cases are travel-related but as yet, in two instances, no link to overseas travel has been ascertained and we continue to investigate. So at this point, we cannot rule out a risk of community transition in these cases.”

Details for each of these cases will be on the Ministry of Health website as soon as it is finalised. The website will continue to be updated as fuller information is received.

"We always knew cases apparently not linked to imported cases would happen and we are prepared," Dr Bloomfield says.

"It is more important now than ever that we continue with our efforts to trace and track individuals who may have been in contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases. Physical distancing is fundamental to our collective response and we ask all New Zealanders to conscientiously play their part in following the guidelines relating to social contact and the ban on large gatherings, which can be found on the Ministry’s website."

Around 1500 tests were processed yesterday.

Three of the confirmed cases are in hospital. A man in his 60s is in Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown, a woman is in hospital in Nelson and another in North Shore Hospital. All three are stable.

Cruise ships

An Australian cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, which left New Zealand five days ago, has had three Australian passengers and one crew member test positive for Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health is in the process of contacting the 56 New Zealanders who were on board the ship, which includes 28 who have returned to New Zealand. These people would be covered by the requirement since 15 March for all travellers returning to New Zealand to go into self-isolation for 14 days. They are now considered as close contacts and are being followed up daily by health officials.

Details of the movement of that ship and the Celebrity Solstice, which had a confirmed Covid-19 case of a New Zealander on board can be found here.

Nationwide announcement at midday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to make a nationwide announcement at 12pm today to update the country on the next steps the government is taking in the fight against Covid-19.

The public is being urged to watch the announcement which will air live on Māori Television, from the Māori Television website and Facebook page, as well as TVNZ and RNZ. 

Bloomfield will also give another announcement at 12.30pm, after Ardern’s address.