The number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand has passed 1000, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is stressing the positives as new lockdown rules are implemented. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand seems to have avoided the exponential growth in Covid-19 cases that has hit countries overseas, but is urging people not to risk the success so far and to continue to abide by lockdown rules. As for those who continued to flout those rules, Ardern said there were “still some people I would charitably describe as idiots”. Her comments came as Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield revealed there were 89 new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand – 48 confirmed cases and 41 probable cases. It brings the total number of cases in New Zealand to 1039. There are 15 people in hospital, including three in ICUs; one in Wellington and two in Auckland, with two in a critical condition.
• A new health notice has been issued, leaving no doubt about what Kiwis can and cannot do in lockdown. Under the rules announced this weekend, it is now clear – fishing, swimming, surfing, hunting and tramping are banned. Kiwis had previously been advised not to take part in these activities during the Covid-19 lockdown but the ban was made official in fresh laws released on the Government’s Covid-19 website. That more explicit guidance has not yet got through to some surfers, with police cracking down on those defying the ban this morning.
• The Ministry of Health says more than 700 close contacts are being traced every day, but there is still no sign of the use of bluetooth technology, which researchers have said is vital, as manual contact-tracing cannot keep pace with how rapidly Covid-19 spreads. The contact-tracing ability of public health units has been under scrutiny, with expert epidemiologists arguing repeatedly that New Zealand’s contact-tracing capacity needs to be ramped up.
Listen live to Newstalk ZB’s coronavirus coverage
• Tens of thousands of New Zealanders will be jobless as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Many of them will be experiencing the welfare system for the first time. What can they expect, and will the system cope? Isaac Davison investigates.
• Keeping the flames of love burning isn’t always easy – even in a world where candlelit restaurants are open and couples can stroll the beach at sunset. So how are New Zealand couples keeping their passion afire in Covid-19’s world under lockdown? New flames, newlyweds, young parents and those with more than half a century together tell Ben Leahy how they are keeping love alive in the age of the coronavirus.
Around the world
• Both the United Kingdom and the United States have recorded their deadliest days of the coronavirus pandemic so far. In the UK, another 708 deaths were reported as people were told to stay inside despite warm, sunny weather. The total number of deaths recorded in Britain is now 4353, with more than 41,000 cases confirmed. In the US, more than 1000 people died in just one day, raising its total death toll to 8000. More than 30,000 new cases were also confirmed for the first time, pushing its total number of infections above 290,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the most confirmed coronavirus cases of any country in the world – more than double the rate of Italy, which has the second most cases.
• Police have launched a criminal investigation into the conduct of Carnival Australia amid the Ruby Princess debacle, which saw 2700 passengers disembark the ship in Sydney despite passengers showing coronavirus symptoms. The docking of the Ruby Princess on March 19 has been considered one of the biggest “disasters” in Australia’s fight against the pandemic. To date, more than 620 passengers have tested positive for Covid-19. That number accounts for 10 per cent of Australia’s confirmed cases.
• Things are bad for the economy – but, taking it for granted that New Zealand faces enormous challenges in the months ahead – Liam Dann looks at eight reasons why New Zealand is in good shape to get through the pandemic.
• If you’ve lost your income or face that prospect, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed. But, action is always better than inaction, and Diana Clement offers top tips and advice on how to cope.
• The NRL are optimistic of a June return, and are considering some radical changes in order to get their competition back up and running. Meanwhile, while horse racing has been suspended in New Zealand, it is still going ahead in Australia, meaning the superstars of New Zealand racing are set to become the stars of Australian racing for the remainder of 2020.
Check our graphic for the latest case numbers in New Zealand.