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Forty new coronavirus cases in New Zealand

The number of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand has risen by 40.

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Director General of Public Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced 40 new cases on March 24. Source: 1 NEWS

Fronting media today, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, All of Government Controller John Ombler, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted and Deputy Chief Executive MBIE Paul Stocks updated New Zealand's number of cases and response to Covid-19.

It means 155 people in New Zealand have, or have had, the virus. Four of these cases are being treated as community transmission - three in Auckland and one in Wairarapa. The number is two more than yesterday.

Dr Bloomfield said there are also three new probable cases of Covid-19 in the country. This means a person has returned a negative laboratory test result but the clinician looking after the person has diagnosed them as a probable case due to their exposure history and clinical symptoms. Probable cases are treated as confirmed cases.

There are six people in hospital, all of which are stable and none to date have required intensive care, Dr Bloomfield said.

Twelve people with confirmed cases in New Zealand have since recovered.

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Jacinda Ardern says to slow Covid-19 everyone needs to do their part. Source: Breakfast

The news comes a day after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised New Zealand's Covid-19 coronavirus alert level to level three, before alert level four comes into effect from 11.59pm tomorrow.

Level four is put in place with a risk of sustained level of virus transmission. Contact between people is largely eliminated, the public urged to stay at home. Essential services, including supermarkets, health care, service stations and media, will remain in place.

The lockdown period has been set for four weeks because it will take weeks for results to show given the lag between infection and people feeling ill.

Dr Bloomfield says of the 40 new cases, about a third are confirmed to have been linked to overseas travel. The Ministry of Health is working to confirm more details about how the other new cases were contracted.

"Recent travel from overseas is still the main driver of our new infections. Anybody who has recently travelled back from overseas should already be in strict self-isolation, no exceptions. 

"Close household contacts should be particularly vigilant for any symptoms they may develop," Dr Bloomfield added.

More than 900 laboratory tests were carried out for Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of people tested in New Zealand to more than 8300.

"We continue to increase our laboratory capacity, again, to ensure that all people who need testing are tested," Dr Bloomfield assured.

"Anyone who has been tested is expected to be in strict isolation until advised of the result of their test."

People can find more information at the Government's Covid-19 website.