Rules won’t get tougher: PM expected to announce lockdown plans this week

Source: 1News

The Prime Minister today addressed rumours over an extension to the country's lockdown, saying the Government hopes to announce more details on how long New Zealand will remain in Alert Level 4 next week. 

Under Alert Level 4, the rules will not get tougher. With no Level 5, the aim is to track the Covid-19 numbers down.

But rumours over a lockdown extension already in effect were dismissed by Jacinda Ardern in today's press conference.

The confusion seems to have stemmed over the seven day expiry of the state of national emergency that has to be renewed every week. Ms Ardern confirmed that did not signal an extension to the lockdown. 

New Zealand has now surpassed 1000 Covid-19 cases, with the addition of 89 today bringing the total to 1039.

Fronting media together this afternoon, Ms Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield made the announcement.

Ms Ardern says she's aware that every time there are new cases it may be hard to see success, but actions being taken like the lockdown are helping. 

"We can be sure that what we have done as a country since the very beginning of Covid-19 is making a difference."

She referenced the modelling that has been done by an economist named Rodney Jones and his team and that it has been accurate in predicting New Zealand's case numbers. 

"On the eve of our lockdown, his modelling projected we had the potential to face as many as 4000 cases this weekend. 

"We're instead at just over a thousand. Those 3000 fewer cases shows the difference that cumulative action can make." 

Ms Ardern also compared New Zealand's coronavirus trajectory to countries overseas, with the death toll here "well below other countries".

New analysis by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows New Zealand closed its borders 25 days after the first case, while Germany took 49 days, Spain 52, Australia 55 and Singapore 61.

"Our first economic package was in place 18 days after the first case. Most countries took more than 40 days," said Ms Ardern. 

"Going hard and going early appears, though, to be paying off for us. The lockdown is the best way to stop the virus and it is also the best thing for our economy by making the pain as short as possible."

Dr Bloomfield said today's case update was made up of 48 confirmed cases and 41 probable cases. He has described a probable case as a test that comes back negative but is being treated as confirmed.

No new deaths were reported today and the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital around the country sits at 15. Three are in intensive care units and two are in a critical condition. 

One hundred and fifty six people have now recovered from the virus.

The laws around activities and travel under Alert Level 4 were clarified for Kiwis yesterday, with The Ministry of Health and Police Ministry releasing a joint statement on the rules.

The rules have made it clear that all water-based activities, including swimming, surfing and boating, are officially banned and clarity around bubbles has also been outlined.