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New Zealand's Covid-19 cases increase by 71 as worldwide total surpasses 1 million

The number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand has increased by 71, bringing the country’s total to 868.

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management, both provided updates on New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 outbreak today.

The newly announced cases are made up of 49 confirmed cases and 22 probable cases, Dr Bloomfield said. 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.

One hundred and three people have now recovered from the virus and New Zealand's Covid-19 death toll remains at one

Dr Bloomfield said there are 13 people in hospitals around the country including one person in ICU. Aside from the person in ICU, everyone is in a stable condition.

A seven-day rolling average of tests has seen just over 2000 coronavirus tests being done per day with a total number to date of 29,485. He said health officials now have the capacity to do over 5400 tests each day in New Zealand.

The confirmed cases are still showing a strong link to overseas travel, with a one per cent link to community transmission.

Dr Bloomfield said there are now 10 significant clusters - a cluster includes more than 10 people infected from one source. Those clusters are located in Napier, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland, Bluff, Matamata and Waitakere. He said Auckland's Marist College, Bluff and Matamata clusters are the three largest.

There are now 62 community-based assessment centres around the country as well as 45 designated practices or swabbing centres set up to handle testing for Covid-19. 

Also fronting media today, Civil Defence's Ms Stuart-Black updated how elderly New Zealanders were being taken care of.

Ms Stuart-Black said many would have support from family, friends and neighbours, but some wouldn't. 

"From the 30th of March check-in calls started as part of a response supported by the Ministry of Social Development regional comissioners. 

"The calls are starting with a smaller group of older New Zealanders who may not be receiving information on where to get the help they need."

She said many people contacted so far had reported that they appreciated the call, and the large majority said they already had all the support they needed.

"Referrals for service are being made and in some cases where people have asked, follow-up calls are being scheduled."

The network of calls will be widened to a larger group of other older people with high needs, she said.

Among other measures, an email has also been sent to 324,000 seniors assuring them that their payments would continue as usual and their winter energy payment would be doubled for this year.

At 89, New Zealand saw its highest number of cases in a single day yesterday, with Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealing that the country hadn’t yet flattened the curve. He said health officials “expect it to keep rising” before the lockdown starts to have an impact on numbers.

Before the lockdown was implemented, health officials said coronavirus cases would continue to climb for 10 days. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she expects cases to surpass 1000 in that four-week period.

Worldwide, coronavirus cases have now topped one million.