Coronavirus - what you need to know: Latest updates and essential info

Publish Date
Monday, 16 March 2020, 1:54PM
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IF YOU ARE FEELING UNWELL OR HAVE CONCERNS YOU MIGHT HAVE COVID-19 - contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453


Updated as at 1:00pm, 25/05/2020

The country has 1,504 cases of COVID-19. There were no new cases in the latest announcement.

New Zealand has had 21 deaths caused by COVID-19. A woman in her 70s died from Covid-19 in Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth on Sunday 29 March. She was the first death in New Zealand related to COVID-19.

In positive news, 1,456 people have recovered from COVID-19. 97% of all confirmed and probable cases have now recovered.

There is one person in hospital with COVID-19. They are at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland and are not in ICU.

There have been a total of 261,315 tests completed to date.

This equates to around 5% of the population.

Key health measures in Level 2 are:

·        Keep your distance from other people when you’re out in public, including on transport.
·        If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
·        If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline immediately and get tested.
·        Good hand hygiene will continue to be the simplest and most effective tool we have to keep COVID-19 at bay.
·        Keep your social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people at once.
·        Keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen to help with contact tracing if we need it.


Essential services are still open at all alert levels.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said physical distancing should always be practised. 

She said the Government had done all it could to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and the Government was asking the New Zealand public to do the same.

The measures would hit the economy hard, but they were necessary, she said.


  • High-risk that virus can bounce back so we must still "restrict contact"
  • Level 3 should be viewed as "recovery room"
  • We should still stay home to save lives

Key difference from Level 4

  • Keep your bubble, but you can expand it a small amount, eg caregivers, children with a shared custody situation, or a single parent who wants the company of a relative
  • Keep your bubble exclusive and small


  • Business moves from "essential" to "safe" work
  • People who can work from home should continue to do so
  • Some workers who cannot work from home may return to work, eg builders, forestry
  • Keep distance and hygiene practices on a high level
  • Face-to-face transaction bars, cafes, restaurants, malls retail stores remain closed
  • Food delivery, drive-thru, online shopping may return but must continue to be contactless


  • Partial reopening of childcare and schooling for children years 1 up to year 10 only
  • Early Childhood Education centres can safely open, but will have limited capacity
  • Attendance is voluntary and primarily for children of parents returning to work
  • For children who can learn from home should stay home


  • Travel restrictions remain
  • Keep travel within your own region, eg if you live in Auckland, don't travel to Hamilton
  • Travel to only where it is necessary
  • Boating and jet skis are not allowed
  • Swimming, surfing and fishing from the shore allowed - but not if it is a new activity
  • Any sign of congregation all of this will be reviewed

Life events

  • Funerals to be attended by no more than 10 people
  • Wedding services to be attended by no more than 10 people
  • Only legal wedding ceremonies allowed, no receptions


Ardern said will stay based in Wellington, and her contact with others would be "very limited".

"I will only really be present here in this building and the building where I live."

Other Ministers have been told to work from home, she said.

Ardern ruled out a "grand coalition" that would include the Opposition in decision-making. She said there were still no plans at this stage to move the September 19 election.

All parliamentary business before select committees would be suspended.

Parliament is adjourned and there was no fixed date for when it will be resumed.

What are the travel restrictions?

New Zealand's borders are closed to everyone but citizens and residents.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will be able to return, and that includes the children and partners of citizens and permanent residents.

All travellers will have to quarantine on their arrival in New Zealand.

All cruise ships are banned from New Zealand until June 30. It does not apply to cargo ships. The decision would be reviewed after that date.

For Kiwis already overseas, those needing consular assistance were asked to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world," Ardern said.

Restrictions also prevent foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China or Iran from entering New Zealand.

The Government has also issued a stern warning for people with health conditions to reconsider overseas cruises.

People who become sick within a month of travelling overseas are encouraged to seek medical advice and phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or a doctor. It is important to mention recent travel history and any known contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

What does it mean to self-isolate?

You should avoid situations where you may come in close contact with others (face-to-face contact closer than one metre for more than 15 minutes), such as social gatherings, work, school, child-care/pre-school centres, university, polytechnic and other education providers, faith-based gatherings, aged-care and health-care facilities, prisons, sports gatherings, restaurants and all public gatherings.

If you have been exposed, it may take up to two weeks for symptoms to present.

Ardern said a range of measures to assist those in self-isolation would be announced this week.

Community support to those unable to support themselves would be increased.

A public information campaign will be launched, the Finance Minister will announce a business continuity package and the Health Minister will announce a suite of additional health measures.

Where did coronavirus come from?

It was first reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The live animal market, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, is suspected as the original source but has not been confirmed.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms often start in the back of the throat with a sore throat and a dry cough.

Other symptoms — fever, shortness of breath, body aches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea — can signal any number of illnesses, from flu to strep to the common cold.

How do you catch it?

The virus is spread through droplets transmitted into the air from coughing or sneezing, which people nearby can take in through their nose, mouth or eyes.

The viral particles in these droplets travel quickly to the back of your nasal passages and to the mucous membranes in the back of your throat, attaching to a particular receptor in cells, beginning there.

What can I do to prevent it?

Good hygiene, regularly washing and thoroughly drying your hands, and other simple steps can help stop the spread, the Ministry of Health says.

These include avoiding close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses and covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.

Washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and drying them thoroughly, before eating or handling food, after using the toilet, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children's noses, or after caring for sick people can help prevent spreading the disease.

How do you treat it?

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

This could involve prescribing antiviral medication used to treat influenza or antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections.

Researchers in many countries are working on developing a vaccine.

Do face masks help?

The World Health Organisation has endorsed face masks as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting coronavirus.

Colleen Kraft, an infectious disease expert for the Emory University Hospital, said that the masks can be effective in combating the two most common ways of contracting a virus in an interview with the Washington Post.

"The mask not only protects you from droplets. It also protects you from bringing your hand, which may have the virus on it, to your mucus membranes such as your nose and your mouth."

However, the masks are only effective under certain circumstances. If not changed regularly they can become useless, and far less effective when not used with other hygiene precautions.

Meanwhile, infectious diseases expert Dr Siouxsie Wiles told the Herald that culturally in countries like China, people wear masks not to prevent infection, but when they have a cold – to stop spreading it.

"It's not very good at blocking viruses coming in. People don't wear them properly, they don't make a good fit around [your face]. If you have a gap, you're breathing stuff in.

"There are other masks that we would use in the lab for when we're doing dangerous stuff and they are very different."

What is a pandemic?

Rebecca S.B. Fischer, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University says three important words are being mixed up: outbreak, epidemic and pandemic.

Simply put, the difference between these three scenarios of disease spread is a matter of scale.

An outbreak is small, but unusual. An epidemic is bigger and spreading. A pandemic is international and out of control.

How should I explain coronavirus to kids?

Scientist Michelle Dickinson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have released a video aiming to explain the outbreak and how to keep safe in a clear and simple way.

Dickinson said a key message was that most people recovered from the coronavirus and that New Zealand could contain it.

She said that children under 15 appear to be showing immunity to the virus.

The video includes a guide to the virus' symptoms and what to keep an eye out for.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.