368 Covid-19 cases - 85 new - March 27

by Peter Newport - Mar 27, 2020

The Ministry of Health has reported 85 new Covid-19 cases today, bringing the national total to 368. 76 new cases are confirmed - 9 are probable.

It is expected that the rate of increased cases should start to slow in around 7 to 10 days.

No new clusters have been reported.

The Ministry of Health has also said that there are adequate amounts of surgical and personal protective equipment being held in New Zealand.

Here's the full Ministry of Health briefing for March 27.

"There are 85 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand made up of 76 new confirmed cases and 9 probable cases. This is as at 9.30 am this morning.

There are 37 individuals that we can confirm have recovered.

We have eight people in hospital with COVID-19.  There are three in Wellington regional hospital, two in Nelson hospital and one each in Waikato, Auckland and Northland hospital.  Seven are stable and one is in ICU in Nelson hospital.

Our laboratories are working to process and report test results as quickly as possible. In the past seven days we have processed an average of 1479 tests each day around the country.

Anyone who has been tested is expected to be in strict self-isolation until advised of the result of their test – that means effectively quarantining themselves from other members of their family.

Contact tracing is in progress for all confirmed cases.

We are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel, as well as links to confirmed cases.

We continue to investigate several possible clusters.

The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 368.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

There remains a lot of interest in supplies of personal protective equipment.

We are providing updated advice to health professionals around when and how to use PPE for dealing with COVID-19 to keep themselves safe.  This will be on our website as draft today and finalised on Monday.

Part of that advice is about when health professionals don’t need to use PPE.  The advice also covers PPE for other essential workers – and about when that is required.

We have a national pandemic PPE stockpile and individual DHBs have their own dedicated supplies.  

In the Ministry of Health national reserve and stores held in reserve by DHBs we have:

1.9 million aprons and gowns
2.7 million pairs of gloves
60,000 sets of eye protection.

In addition, there are 18 million masks held in the national reserve and 5.1 million held in reserve by DHBs.

The Ministry is exploring all existing and a range of new avenues to ensure we maintain our stocks.

Our actions underpin the importance of protecting our health workers and those working in essential services have access to PPE.  It is already available for health workers and it’s important there is work to ensure a supply to essential workers.

Epidemic Notice

Three days ago, on 24 March the Prime Minister, with agreement of the Minister of Health, issued an epidemic notice under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006.

That notice unlocks the use of special powers by Medical Officers of Health under the Health Act 1956  to prevent the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.

This is the legal underpinning of the lockdown.

“In addition I have published a national notice to activate Section 70 of the Health Act 1956 which has since Wednesday night prohibited large gatherings and required premises to be closed with the exception of essential businesses.”

There is more information about this on the Ministry’s website.  More special powers may be used as the situation progresses.

Response to Call for Assistance

There’s been an excellent response to our call for retired health professionals prepared to come back to help with the COVID-19 response – more than 2500 have registered and that number continues to grow.

As well as retired workers we have had interest from people who are not currently working in clinical roles (ie those on maternity leave, or those who are not providing essential services) about assisting with the COVID-19 response.

Healthcare workers and employers will from today be able to register their availability on the Ministry of Health website and we will then match them to roles that need to be filled in the sector.  

These are unprecedented times for New Zealand and other countries around the globe.  We are all in this together.  We will expect the number of cases to keep increasing for now.  If we all do our bit, and we break the chain of transmission, slow the spread of COVID-19 and we will be able to get on top of this.

Our modelling shows that the greater our level of compliance, the greater the impact on reducing the impact of COVID-19.

“As always look after yourselves, look after your loved ones and look after your community.”

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