Coronavirus: 83 new cases in New Zealand

New Zealand has 83 new cases of coronavirus COVID-19, officials said on Saturday, bringing the total to 451.

Of those cases, there are 78 new infections and five probable, Civil Defence emergency management director Sarah Stuart-Black told reporters.

There are now two people in ICU - one of them on a ventilator. Twelve others are in hospital, Stuart-Black said, while 50 others have recovered from the virus.

"Overseas travel and links to confirmed cases continue to be in the most significant infection path.

"I'd like to reiterate my messages over the last few days - please be kind to each other.

"There's a high level of anxiety in the community."

New Zealand is on its third day of a nationwide lockdown. It came into effect on Wednesday night to limit people's exposure to COVID-19, which has infected more than 566,000 people globally - killing about 25,400.

Although Kiwis are required to stay indoors and all non-essential businesses have been closed, authorities have warned New Zealand will continue to see a rise in the number of cases for at least another week. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country could have thousands of infected individuals.

What we know about coronavirus

The World Health Organization (WHO) was first notified of cases of the virus SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) in Wuhan, China on December 31. It was identified as a coronavirus on January 7 and can spread via human-to-human transmission. It causes the coronavirus COVID-19 illness.

The virus is primarily spread through droplets in the air after someone sneezes or coughs, however, it can also be contracted by touching surfaces where the illness is present. The length of time the virus stays alive on surfaces isn't fully understood, but some viruses can remain active for days.

"Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death," the WHO says.

"Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing."

There is currently no vaccine for the illness.

How can I protect myself?

  • avoid touching the mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
  • washing your hands before eating
  • carrying a hand sanitiser at all times
  • being particularly mindful of touching your face after using public transport or going to the airport
  • carry tissues at all times to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (then dispose of it)
  • not eating shared or communal food
  • avoiding shaking hands, kissing cheeks
  • regularly cleaning and sanitise commonly used surfaces and items, such as phones and keys
  • avoiding close contact with people suffering from or showing symptoms of acute respiratory infection
  • seeking medical attention if you feel unwell.