The Government wants more testing for Covid 19 in regions with low confirmed cases before deciding whether some could have conditions of the lockdown eased, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

With today marking a week since the lockdown began, Ardern praised the majority of New Zealanders for their “amazing” response.

But she has given young New Zealanders a stern lecture to follow the rules, saying they were the largest group of carriers.

“This isn’t about ‘other’ and it’s not about someone else, it’s about you and your family and that includes every age demographic there is.”

Ardern is also set to outline exit plans today for thousands of tourists stranded here, including an estimated 12,000 Germans and 10,000 British nationals.

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The issue of whether testing has been wide enough has been a point of contention since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed on February 28.

Ardern indicated that the Government did not have sufficient data on community transmission to decide whether to lower the alert levels in some regions.

“To make those calls we need to make sure we have enough tests.”

In areas across the country where testing had been low, the Government needed to be sure “we have enough data and enough information to really make a clear judgment, that we actually don’t have community transmission there – and we might be in a position, for instance, to change alert levels for those different regions.”

New Zealand is in alert level 4, with all but essential services closed or working from home.

People are urged to stay at home to break the chains of transmission of the highly contagious virus while health professionals test, identify and isolate confirmed cases.

Criteria for testing was extended for a second time this week and testing capacity will soon be at 5000 a day, Health Minister David Clark said yesterday.

The District Health Boards with the lowest number of confirmed cases are Tairawhiti (East Coast) with one, Whanganui and West Coast each with three and Wairarapa with six.

The only death so far in New Zealand, however, was on the West Coast, Anne Guenole, aged 73, whose family is mystified as to how she got it.

The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 47 new confirmed cases and 14 new probably ones, taking the total confirmed and probable cases to 708, 61 higher than the previous day.

Civil defence director Sarah Stuart-Black reiterates the basic message: staying home saves lives. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It reported that 16 people were in hospital, two of them in intensive care but in a stable condition, and that 82 people had recovered.

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black stressed the overarching message to the public was that “staying home saves lives”.

Those who wished to exercise should stay local and maintain physical distancing of 2 metres at all times. The Government’s official Covid-19 advisory website

Ardern pointed out at her daily press conference yesterday that the age cohort with by far the highest number of cases was the Age Group 20 to 29 as follows:

• 0 to 9 – 8 cases

• 10 to 19 – 51 cases

• 20 to 29 – 183 cases

• 30 to 39 – 103 cases

• 40 to 49 – 114 cases

• 50 to 59 – 107 cases

• 60 to 69 – 94 cases

• 70 and over – 48 cases

Ardern said that while the majority of New Zealanders were doing an amazing job during the lockdown “we just need to keep reminding that small proportion who perhaps aren’t taking it seriously why it is so important.”

“This period of time is our chance to break the chain of transmission. The quicker we do that, the sooner we can return to some semblance of normal life and the much better able we will be to save lives of other New Zealanders and that includes people you know.
The 20 to 29 year olds might think they would get it only mildly.

“They are our vector for transmission. They are the ones who then pass it on. I need everyone to take this seriously …

“Thank-you for allowing me my little rant,” she told reporters.

Ardern revealed that the pricing complaints line established on Tuesday had received nearly 1000 calls and the most common complaint was about the high price of cauliflower, up to $13.

But there had been other complaints about bread, hand sanitiser, face-masks and garlic.

Meanwhile Cabinet ministers Shane Jones and Phil Twyford have commissioned a group of experts to identify shovel-ready infrastructure projects to begin as soon the country is out of lockdown – over and above those in the $12 billion Upgrade Programme announced in February, or already identified in the provincial growth fund.

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