71 new Covid-19 cases, 53 now linked to Bluff wedding


Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield has revealed 49 new confirmed cases and 22 probable cases, bringing the New Zealand total to 868.

Dr Bloomfield also revealed the number of cases linked to the Bluff wedding cluster had climbed to 53, an increase of 19 on the day before.

It is unclear how many of the cases linked to the wedding are in the South, but the Otago Daily Times understands the wedding was attended largely by out-of-towners.

The wedding was held at Oyster Cove Restaurant and Bar on March 21, attended by about 70 people.

Dr Bloomfield said the increase in the number of cases connected to the wedding was down to people who went to the wedding being tracked down.

“All the close contacts have been identified, they have been self-isolated and been tested if they become symptomatic.”

“I think it is good that we are finding those cases because then we can take appropriate action.”

There were now 10 clusters across New Zealand, with the largest being Marist College in Auckland.

Meanwhile Dr Bloomfield said ambulance staff would not perform CPR on a confirmed Covid-19 case.

This was a guideline adopted internationally, he said, and because the virus was spread via the respiratory system.

There have been 2000 lab tests a day, with almost 30,000 tests conducted so far.

Capacity is now 5400 tests a day, Dr Bloomfield said.

One person is in an ICU.

On the border, he said 300 people have arrived into New Zealand – those are all Kiwis returning home.

If people are symptomatic, they are quarantined and tested.

There 135 people in quarantined, at the moment.

​Dr Bloomfield is being joined at today’s 1pm update by Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black.

Bluff wedding cluster

Oyster Cove Restaurant and Bar owner Ross Jackson previously told the Otago Daily Times he believed guests were not local but from Invercargill and beyond. Front-of-house staff at the event had self-isolated.

“We’ll just hunker down here. We’re obviously closed.

“The wedding was the last function we had on our books.”

He said they had put health precautions in place, such as hand sanitising and minimal contact between people.

“I don’t think that made a jot of difference to be fair, now I know what I know about Covid-19.”

Bluff was a small place and since the news of the cluster broke, he had experienced the “odd sharp comment”.

“You expect it, but to be fair, everyone in Bluff has been really supportive.”

Support for older Kiwis

Ms Stuart-Black said at today’s update half a million older New Zealanders have been in self-isolation since the lockdown began.

Check-in calls from the Government started on March 30.

The calls have been appreciated so far, Stuart-Black said.

She added an email has been sent to more than 300,000 seniors telling them their payments will continue.

It also informed them that their winter energy payment had been doubled.

She asked people to continue to check on older New Zealanders.

National Action Plan

In terms of the National Action Plan which was reported on by one media outlet, Ms Stuart-Black said they were “standard documents” and were not secret.

“We have been open about what we have been trying to achieve in the national response.”

Having an action plan is critical to making sure people are on the same page.

She said that plan will be published online today.

“Do get outdoors for some exercise, but stay local,” she said.

Yesterday had biggest jump in new cases

It comes as Dr Bloomfield revealed that yesterday across New Zealand there were 76 new confirmed cases and 13 new probable cases (a total of 89 new cases), bringing the total number of cases in the country to 797.

That was the biggest rise in cases in one day.

It was also hinted at yesterday that the South could be among the last places in New Zealand to see the lifting of the tough restrictions of the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Dr Bloomfield said the Government was just now looking at how the spread of the coronavirus might indicate when lockdown restrictions could be eased.

“The goal is to get the number of cases right down again, and as soon as we can.

“We want to be able to release, or step down from, Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

“It may well be that we are not able to do that in every part of the country at the same time, as one possible scenario,” Dr Bloomfield said.

The SDHB area yesterday had 118 cases, still higher than anywhere else in New Zealand, including Waikato (117) and Auckland (116).

Otago Daily Times

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