New Zealand has recorded 950 of the nearly 1.1 million cases of COVID-19 reported around the globe, more than doubling the number Aotearoa had last Saturday.
Of those 950, there are 824 confirmed cases and 126 probable cases. Probable cases are defined as those where a test has come back negative, but a clinician believes, based on overseas travel history and symptoms, that it's likely the patient have the illness.
The Ministry of Health says 127 people have recovered from the disease, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Someone is defined as recovered when at least 10 days have passed since the onset of their symptoms and they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
There are currently 10 people in hospital and one person has died, a woman from the West Coast who had underlying health conditions and was initially diagnosed with influenza.
Where are the cases?
As of Saturday afternoon, the Ministry of Health advises that the Southern District Health Board (DHB) has more recorded cases of COVID-19 than any other DHB in the country. The large DHB includes Dunedin, Fiordland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Oamaru, and Invercargill. 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.
The DHB with the fewest cases continues to be Tairawhiti with a single case.
Total cases by DHB
- Southern: 151
- Waikato: 136
- Waitemata: 129
- Auckland: 127
- Capital and Coast: 73
- Counties Manukau: 70
- Canterbury: 66
- Nelson Marlborough: 32
- Bay of Plenty: 30
- Hawke's Bay: 29
- MidCentral: 21
- Hutt Valley: 18
- Taranaki: 14
- Northland: 13
- Lakes: 11
- South Canterbury: 10
- Wairarapa: 8
- Whanganui: 7
- West Coast: 4
- Tairawhiti: 1
The Ministry of Health also highlights which DHBs the hospitalised cases are located in. Capital and Coast has 3, while Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Nelson Marlborough, Tairawhiti, Taranaki, and Waikato each have a single hospitalised case.
The transmission type of cases is extremely important for authorities as it informs the restrictions being put in place to limit the virus' spread. For example, high cases linked to overseas travel lead to the shutting of New Zealand's borders, while the presence of community transmission prompted greater domestic restrictions. The full criteria for what would trigger New Zealand coming out of lockdown is still being developed, but the level of community transmission will be crucial as authorities won't want to open the country up if that form of transmission continues to be widespread.
- Recent overseas travel: 47 percent of cases
- Contact with known case: 34 percent of cases
- Community transmission: 1 percent of cases
- Under investigation: 17 percent of cases
While the data shows 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. Over the last week, the Ministry of Health has moved to only report clusters with 10 or more cases.
- Marist College, Auckland: 60 cases
- Bluff wedding: 55 cases
- Redoubt Bar, Matamata, 54
- World Hereford Conference: 32
- A workplace in Auckland: 16
- A cruise ship which docked in the Hawke's Bay: 16
- A resthome in Hamilton: 14
- A group from Wellington which travelled to the United States: 13
- An event in Wellington: 13
- A group from Auckland which travelled overseas: 13
While the elderly are the most vulnerable to the disease, due to the higher chance they have compromised immunity or an underlying health condition, the 20-29 age bracket has the highest number of cases in New Zealand. That prompted a warning from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week.
"[Those in the 20-29 age bracket] are the ones that we are identifying as having Covid-19 in New Zealand," she said on Wednesday.
"They may think that this won't affect them much - that they'll be mild to moderate. They are our vector for transmission. They're the ones that pass it on."
- 0-9: 10
- 10-19: 67
- 20-29: 242
- 30-39: 139
- 40-49: 139
- 50-59: 161
- 60-69: 129
- 70+: 62
- Unknown: 1
- Male: 432
- Female: 508
- Not specified: 10
- European or other: 685
- Asian: 76
- Unknown: 70
- Maori: 68
- Pacific: 28
- Middle Eastern/Latin American/African: 23
What we know about the 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.