Today we are reporting one new confirmed case of COVID-19.
The person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is a household contact of previously confirmed cases that are linked to the Matamata cluster.
The DHB is publicly calling for anyone in Matamata who is concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of whether they were involved in the St Patricks day event or whether they have symptoms, to immediately seek advice on getting tested.
That brings New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases to 1,489.
That is made up of 1,139 confirmed cases, which is the number we report to the World Health Organisation, and 350 probable cases.
We now have 1,332 people reported as having recovered from COVID-19, which is 89% of all confirmed and probable cases – an increase of 16 on yesterday.
Today there are two people in hospital with COVID-19 – one in Auckland City and one in Middlemore. Neither are in ICU.
We still have 16 significant clusters. There are no additional deaths to report.
Yesterday our laboratories completed 7,323 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 168,023.
It’s encouraging to see testing numbers increase again, and a reminder that anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, however mild, should rapidly seek advice about getting tested for COVID-19. It is important that people with symptoms get tested early to help us confirm whether or not they have COVID-19 and then take the appropriate follow-up actions as quickly as possible.
Aged Residential Care safety
A new questionnaire has been developed in collaboration with DHBs and the New Zealand Aged Care Association to assess when to test new or returning aged residential care residents for COVID-19. It has been released to DHBs, aged care providers and the wider health sector for immediate use. It is expected to provide greater assurance to providers, residents and their families about the measures being taken to keep facilities safe during COVID 19. The questionnaire is available on the Ministry website.
The initial review of 32 of our previous decisions on exemptions to managed isolation on compassionate grounds has been completed.
Alongside this, we have updated the criteria for assessing requests for individuals wishing to visit a dying relative including a recent medical assessment of the relative, evidence of their family relationship, and an appropriate plan to manage the applicant’s self-isolation while visiting their loved one.
The review process has found that all of the original decisions were correct on the original criteria, but has found that some decisions should be changed to reflect the updated criteria, which incorporate the findings of last week’s High Court judgement.
There has already been media coverage from one applicant who has had their request for an exemption agreed to on review, and who has now left managed isolation.
The Ministry team is now completing these reviews with urgency and is contacting applicants as these are completed.
The Ministry has published today a literature review of the risks and benefits of the wider use of masks by the public.
The key finding of the review commissioned by the Ministry’s Chief Science Advisor Dr Ian Town is that there is a range of approaches taken by different countries and there is evidence of both potential benefits and potential harms. The science is not conclusive.
We are aware that the issue of the general public wearing masks continues to generate attention.
We have referred this updated evidence to our Technical Advisory Group to advise on whether there should be any change to our current recommendation.
Urgent health needs
A reminder that hospitals remain open at all Alert Levels, and no one should delay seeking treatment for their health.