There are 78 new cases of Covid-19, including 73 confirmed cases and five new probable cases, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says.

Details of these cases will be released as they emerge.

The new cases bring the total number of confirmed or probable infections to 283.

There are 27 people who have recovered, Bloomfield said.

Seven people are in hospital and are stable. None are in ICU.

Yesterday 2417 tests were processed nationwide, taking the total number of tests to 12,683. About 1400 tests have been done daily in the last week.

People who have been tested must self-isolate from those in their household while awaiting the results of their tests.

Most cases are still linked to overseas travel or to existing clusters of confirmed cases, such as the 11 cases at Marist College in Auckland and more at the world conference in Queenstown.

There are also possible clusters around a travel group to the US as well as a rest home in Hamilton.

Bloomfield said a wedding in Wellington was also a cluster where community transmission may have happened, and close contacts were being traced.

He said the Ruby Princess cruise ship which visited the Hawkes Bay was also potentially a cluster when people on the ship had gone to a winery.

He said a person in the Hawkes Bay had become infected with Covid-19 after coming into contact with a positive case on the Ruby Princess – but that had not been a close contact.

More information will be provided about those clusters when available.

He said the peak in the number of confirmed cases may be in the thousands, but he hoped the turnaround point may be in 10 days if people complied with the lockdown rules.

He said peaking in 10 to 12 days was based on what had happened in other countries. Some modeling had been done, including from Auckland University, and that was why a lockdown had been implemented.

Modeling was going to be released once Ministers had seen that information.

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Bloomfield said all people should be able to access pharmaceuticals they need, despite the stockpiling in recent days.

Pharmaceuticals limited

From tonight, pharmacists can only dispense one month supplies of pharmaceuticals, or three months for oral contraceptives.

He added that there were no significant shortages at the moment, but the measure was a precaution to ensure supplies of essential medicines.

“These are unprecedented times,” he said.

He added that the number of cases will continue rising for the next 10 days, but if people stayed at home and self-isolated properly, the number will come down.

He said PPE for health professionals were in good supply, and DHBs were working hard to make sure workers had the protective gear they needed. But not everybody in a hospital needed to wear a mask at all times, as it depended on each case and how infectious that case might be.

Asked about nurses in the North Shore who have been told not to wear masks as it might scare patients, he said those matters were up to clinicians and DHBs but the Ministry of Health will be providing guidance.

168 Kiwi travellers in quarantine

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said day one of the nationwide lockdown showed that most New Zealanders were complying.

He said the police had to ensure safety, and to ensure the country was sustainable.

“Stay home to stay safe. If we don’t comply, the consequence of that is people will die.”

Police were being “very visible” and initially it was about education and engagement and encouragement.

Police were telling people what was required of them, and were challenging people about whether they were going about essential things if they were outside their homes.

“People everywhere across New Zealand for their friends and everyone else to keep each other safe,” Bush said.

Bush said New Zealanders returning home since 2am this morning are being triaged.

“If you have any symptoms, you will be taken by health people to a place of quarantine.”

Hotels and motels near Auckland Airport were being used, he said.

“If you have a place to go, we will help you get there. If you have friends coming to pick you up, only one person in your bubble will be allowed to take you,” Bush said.

He said 360 people had come through Auckland Airport this morning, and it had gone smoothly, notwithstanding a few “speed bumps”.

He said eight of the 360 arriving this morning had been quarantined; 160 didn’t have plans and were also placed in quarantine.

e said of the 168 in quarantine, 160 did not have proper plans and their travel to a suitable place was being facilitated.

Those who had proper plans would be visited by police to ensure they were sticking to those plans.

Services that were open but not essential were being closed by police, he said.

Bush made it clear that people driving to a park had to “keep it local” and people should not be driving “willy nilly” all over town.

Gunman’s guilty plea

Bush also commented on the Christchurch mosque gunman pleading guilty and paid tribute to the courage of the March 15 victims. He said the admission this morning meant they wouldn’t have to relive the events of that traumatic day.

He also praised the police and prosecuting team involved in the case.

On the guilty plea, he said it was a “very fast-moving piece”, and police had empathy for the people involved.

Sentencing would happen when victims could attend, he said.

He said he could not comment on why the plea had changed to guilty today.

He said the victims not having to relive the trauma was the most important impact of today’s plea.

Some police resources would now be able to be redirected to help with the lockdown, he said.

The Alert Level 4 nationwide lockdown came into effect at 11:59pm yesterday, and police are on patrol around the country to ensure people are staying at home unless they have a valid reason to be outside.

Bush said this morning some people were not even aware that a nationwide lockdown had been ordered.

He said people this morning were unaware of the lockdown, and if people breached the requirements, they will be warned and their details taken.

“If people won’t comply, we do have the authority to detain them, take them to our place,” and give them time to contemplate their decisions.

People will be prosecuted for “serious” breaches.

He was not aware of any arrest or warnings.

People who were charged might face six months’ jail for, for example, obstructing police.

Prisoners at risk

Bloomfield said there was a risk of Covid-19 infections in prisons, and Corrections had a means to protect prisoners, including health screening of all visitors and a ban on face-to-face meetings.

Any prison was at high risk of a Covid-19 outbreak, he said.

State of Emergency

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that modelling suggesting the number of cases in New Zealand could reach the thousands before dropping.

A national state of emergency was declared yesterday, and a number of new laws were passed urgently to give effect to the Government’s plans to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Ardern implored everyone to stay home unless it was for essential services.

“I have to reduce down my contact, you have to reduce down yours. Everybody has to now move into a space where they act like we all carry Covid-19. That’s how we have to behave.”

Ardern is expected to give a press conference at 3pm today.

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