Scientific community still concerned over asymptomatic spread of Covid-19, Ardern tells Parliament

There is still concern from the scientific community over asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19, the Prime Minister said today after she sped up the timeline for when the Government decides to move to Alert Level 1.

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It was revealed today Cabinet next week will look at moving Alert Levels early.

"It is worse for business if we move backwards rather than continually moving forwards, so we will continually balance our decision making," Jacinda Ardern told Parliament after being questioned by National leader Todd Muller. 

Ms Ardern announced earlier that Cabinet would have a full review of New Zealand's alert levels on June 8, meaning it is possible that New Zealand could move to Alert Level 1 next week.

She said the country was "ahead of schedule", with a long string of days in which zero new cases have been announced and only one active case of Covid-19 remaining. 

Mr Muller asked if there was "substantive discussion" around moving to Alert Level 1 during today's Cabinet meeting. 

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A move depends on if there are any more Covid-19 cases in the next week, Jacinda Ardern said. Source: 1 NEWS

"The substantive discussion related to the bringing of a paper on the 8th of June," Ms Ardern replied. 

Ms Ardern said they already began "discussing last week with the Ministry of Health whether or not we should bring forward our consideration of Alert Level 1".

"We also consider things like economic ramifications, the readiness of the public health system, contact tracing, and compliance issues.

"We've always said that based on the evidence that we have, we are willing to bring forward our consideration.

"We have had ongoing zero-case days. That gives us confidence to reconsider the time frames. I will say again, though: moving earlier than that, there is still ongoing concern amongst the scientific community around asymptomatic transmission."

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Jacinda Ardern says Cabinet will discuss easing restrictions further when they meet on June 8. Source: Breakfast

Mr Muller asked Ms Ardern how she expected New Zealanders "to follow social distancing rules when her Deputy Prime Minister has publicly stated we should be in Level 1 now?"

Winston Peters had been openly calling for the country to move to Alert Level 1. 

"The fact that we have different opinions on this issue has not meant that anyone in the Cabinet has deviated away from upholding the rules that are in place, or the expectation around the rules," Ms Ardern said. 

"What I will say is unlike, perhaps, some are modelling on the other side of the House, we are very aware of each other's opinions and we talk openly about them before we talk publicly about them."