There's been both cautious optimism and tragedy in New Zealand this week, as while the daily number of COVID-19 cases is falling, three new deaths have also been recorded.
As of Saturday afternoon, New Zealand has reported 1312 cases of SARS-CoV-2, the infectious coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness, up 362 on last Saturday.
Broken down, there are 1035 cases of the illness confirmed in the country, while 277 are probable cases. Probable cases are those where a test has come back negative, but a doctor believes the patient likely has the illness considering their travel history, exposure or symptoms.
Overall, 422 people recovered from the virus, up significantly from the 127 last week. The Ministry of Health says an individual has recovered once it has been more than 10 days since the onset of their symptoms and they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.
There are 15 people in hospital, five of which are currently in an intensive care unit. One patient is in a critical condition. Four people have died from COVID-19, three of which were confirmed over the last two days.
Find last week's break down of the cases here for comparison.
Where are the cases?
The latest data from the Ministry of Health shows that the Southern District Health Board (DHB) continues to have more cases of COVID-19 than any other DHB, with 207. It's followed by Waitemata, Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury. Tairawhiti continues to have the fewest with only a single case in that DHB. The Ministry of Health website doesn't break the data down into individual towns or areas, however, some DHBs are providing more specific information on their websites.
Total cases by DHB
- Southern: 207
- Waitemata: 183
- Auckland: 173
- Waikato: 167
- Canterbury: 135
- Counties Manukau: 98
- Capital and Coast: 86
- Nelson Marlborough: 48
- Bay of Plenty: 42
- Hawke's Bay: 38
- MidCentral: 28
- Northland: 25
- Hutt Valley: 21
- Lakes: 14
- Taranaki: 14
- South Canterbury: 11
- Wairarapa: 9
- Whanganui: 7
- West Coast: 5
- Tairawhiti: 1
There are three hospitalised cases in the Auckland DHB, two in Counties Manukau, Southern and Waitemata, and a single hospitalised case in Canterbury, Capital and Coast, Hawke's Bay, Nelson Marlborough, South Canterbury, and Waikato.
New Zealand has seen two deaths in Christchurch - they are linked to the Rosewood rest home cluster - a single death on the West Coast and one in Wellington.
New Zealand is now in its third week of nationwide lockdown under alert level 4. The decision of whether to extend that lockdown from its currently four-week run or to lift it will be made on April 20. One of the key pieces of data that will be considered if the level of community transmission, which is where officials can't identify who an infected individual contracted the illness from. That is up 1 percent on last week, while transmission overseas has fallen.
- Overseas: 40 percent
- Contact with known case: 46 percent
- Community transmission: 2 percent
- Source under investigation: 11 percent
Outbreaks within New Zealand may be referred to as clusters. 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.
The number of cases linked to clusters has grown over the last week with the increase in the "contact with known case" transmission type.
There are 13 significant clusters in New Zealand. These are clusters with 10 or more cases.
- Bluff wedding: 85 cases
- Marist College, Auckland: 85 cases
- Matamata bar: 70 cases
- Party in Auckland: 35 cases
- World Hereford Conference, Queenstown: 33 cases
- Rosewood rest home, Christchurch: 30 cases
- Workplace, Auckland: 28 cases
- Wellington group which travelled to the United States: 16
- Ruby Princess cruise ship: 16
- Auckland group which travelled to the United States: 15
- George Manning retirement village: 14
- A rest home in Waikato: 14
- A wedding in Wellington: 13
- 0-9: 24
- 10-19: 102
- 20-29: 325
- 30-39: 204
- 40-49: 189
- 50-59: 216
- 60-69: 158
- 70+: 94
- Male: 592
- Female: 718
- Not specified: 2
- European or other: 963
- Asian: 133
- Unknown: 52
- Maori: 110
- Pacific people: 54
While the number of COVID-19 cases being reported each day is dropping, officials have warned against complacency and called on Kiwis to continue respecting the alert level 4 requirements for the next two weeks.
Modelling released on Thursday found that New Zealand could contain the virus if the lockdown ended after its four-week run and fast contact tracing was underway. Our current daily numbers do track similarly to that "optimistic" view, however, in "realistic" or "pessimistic" scenarios, New Zealand could see another outbreak if the lockdown was lifted. Having the lockdown in place for 45 days would likely see the virus contained while a 90-day lockdown could see it eliminated.
There are 1.7 million cases of the virus worldwide, with more than 100,000 people having died of the illness.
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 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
- carry tissues at all times to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (then dispose of it)
- 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.