With 83 new cases of coronavirus COVID-19 confirmed on Saturday, New Zealand now has 451 cases of the respiratory illness that is sweeping the globe.
Broken down, there are 416 confirmed cases and 35 probable cases. As Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has explained, probable cases are where an individual has returned a negative test, but a clinician believes they likely have the illness due to their exposure history and symptoms.
There are a range of symptoms for COVID-19, but the main ones doctors are looking out for are a fever, shortness of breath and a cough. While most people who develop the illness will only have mild symptoms, others require hospital treatment, particularly the elderly. In Aotearoa, there are 12 people in hospital, with two in intensive care.
Overall, 50 people have recovered from the disease.
Where are the cases?
Of the District Health Boards in the country, the Auckland District Health Board has seen the most cases. The exact suburbs of the cases are not provided on the Ministry of Health website. The District Health Board with the fewest cases is Tairawhiti, which covers the East Cape.
Total cases by DHB
- Auckland: 64
- Southern: 59
- Waikato: 58
- Waitemata: 54
- Capital and Coast: 45
- Canterbury: 40
- Counties Manukau: 33
- Nelson Marlborough: 18
- Hutt Valley: 13
- Hawke's Bay: 11
- MidCentral: 10
- Bay of Plenty: 10
- Taranaki: 8
- Lakes: 8
- Northland: 6
- Wairarapa: 5
- Whanganui: 3
- South Canterbury: 3
- West Coast: 2
- Tairawhiti: 1
Age (note: Data only adds to 450)
Not specified: 4
While the majority of people with the illness in New Zealand caught it while travelling or from someone who has recently travelled, other cases are related to what are referred to as a cluster. These are groups of COVID-19 cases linked together as they have all been to the same location. Within a cluster there may be an individual who has a link to someone who has travelled.
In New Zealand, there are five clusters being investigated by the Ministry of Health.
- Marist College, Auckland: 23 confirmed cases, 1 probable
- World Hereford Conference, Queenstown: 18 confirmed cases, 1 probable
- Private wedding, Wellington: 9 confirmed cases, 3 probable
- A group who travelled to the United States now in Wellington: 15 confirmed cases, 2 probable
- Rest home, Hamilton: 11 confirmed cases
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.
SARS-CoV-2 causes the COVID-19 disease, which 600,000 people worldwide have. Nearly 28,000 people have died from it over the last three months.
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 studies have suggested that on some materials it could be 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 sickness.
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.
An explainer on protecting yourself from coronavirus can be found here. Full information can also be found at Covid19.govt.nz
The Ministry of Health is reminding the public to get in touch with Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if they have symptoms or concerns.