More than 2500 non-practising Kiwi health professionals register to help fight COVID-19 pandemic

More than 2500 non-practising Kiwi health professionals have registered to help fight the coronavirus pandemic in New Zealand, as the number of cases continues to grow.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed on Friday that as well as retired health professionals, the Ministry of Health has also heard from people on maternity leave wanting to help out. 

He said non-practising health professionals can register their availability on the Ministry of Health website, and will likely be allocated non-contact positions such as working with Healthline.

"We've put out a call to retired or currently non-practising health professionals to support the COVID-19 response, should they be required, and there's been a fantastic response there," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"These are unprecedented times for New Zealand and indeed internationally," he said. "As I've said over the last few days, we do expect the daily number of cases to grow, we are testing to find those cases, and to take appropriate measures."

Dr Bloomfield said it will take about a week to 10 days before the trend of new cases goes down, provided the country sticks to the lockdown rules in place under alert level 4. 

He confirmed on Friday that there are 85 new cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand - 76 new confirmed cases and nine probable - bringing the total to 368. 

Dr Bloomfield said 37 people have recovered from the virus in New Zealand, but there are currently eight in hospital from it, with one person in intensive care. 

Personal protective equipment advice is being finalised for workers in essential fields, he said, and it will be made available on the Ministry of Health website. 

There is a national reserve of 18 million masks, he said, and the Ministry of Health has 1.9 million aprons and gowns, as well as 2.7 million gloves and 60,000 eye protectors. 

Dr Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health is "exploring new avenues to ensure we maintain stock" and that "all stones are being turned over to ensure we keep our stocks at the levels needed".