Confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 61, bringing total to 708

There are 61 new coronavirus cases in New Zealand, health officials announced today, bringing the national total to 708. 

The new cases are made up of 47 confirmed cases and 14 probable cases. A probable case is when a test comes back negative but it’s being treated as confirmed as the person's symptoms fit the criteria of Covid-19.

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Today’s update brings the nationwide tally to 708 confirmed and probable cases. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Caroline McElnay, director of public health, gave today's health update to media while Sarah Stuart-Black, director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, gave an update on the national Covid-19 response.

Dr McElnay said there are 16 people in hospital with Covid-19. Two are in intensive care units but they are stable.

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1 NEWS has the latest information on how many Covid-19 cases are in your area. Source: 1 NEWS

A new case definition has been implemented from today for diagnosis and testing of the virus in New Zealand. Now, anyone with respiratory symptoms which are consistent with Covid-19 disease will be considered for testing regardless of travel history or contact with a confirmed case.

There are 1843 tests being done per day on average, based over the last seven days. At present there are eight laboratories which are doing the testing and by the end of next week there will be 10. Dr McElnay said community transmission remained at about one per cent.  

There are 708 total cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand as of April 1, 2020. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Stuart-Black of Civil Defence gave an update on the charter flights that are taking Kiwis who have recently arrived back into the country to their own regions from Auckland. The first flight took 57 passengers from Auckland to Wellington and then on to Christchurch yesterday.

She said there is another flight this afternoon and there will be more in the coming days as needed.

"We are doing our best to move people who are eligible for these chartered regional flights as soon as we can. All passengers on these flights had pre-health checks and were without Covid-19 symptoms. They must all go into self-isolation once they get off the flight. 

"It's been a very complex exercise to make these flights happen." 

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The state of national emergency was extended for a further seven days yesterday. Ms Stuart-Black said some people have been confused between Covid-19 alert levels and the state of emergency. 

"The alert levels can be applied without a state of emergency and a state of emergency can be declared without alert levels being used," she explained. 

Yesterday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said community transmission cases were expected to increase.

New Zealand's Covid-19 death toll remains at one.

It's been revealed today that New Zealand has been able to procure more than 200 ventilators from international suppliers to treat Covid-19 patients, despite global demand.