Fifty new virus cases

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A state of emergency has been declared in New Zealand, as 50 new confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 come to light.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said, at 1.30pm yesterday, there were 47 confirmed cases and three probable cases.

The total confirmed and probable cases was 205.

Twenty-two people had recovered from the virus, and six were in a stable condition in hospital.

The Ministry of Health also revealed four new cases in the south yesterday, including two in Dunedin.

Dr Bloomfield said majority of cases were still linked to overseas travel, including people who were in the same household as someone who was overseas.

Other links were people who attended a known event or were part of a cluster where there was other cases, or being a close contact of a confirmed case, he said.

There were five confirmed cases within the Marist College community.

The Auckland school has been closed all week, and staff and pupils are in self-isolation.

Dr Bloomfield said there were four cases of community transmission in New Zealand, and some cases that were still being investigated were suspected to also be community transmission.

“We will continue to see a rise in cases for at least 10 days.

“That is because the infections we are finding today, and over the coming week to 10 days, are people who have been infected before today.”

The numbers would continue to increase before they “turn around”.

“That turnaround will happen if all New Zealanders do what is being asked of them.”

That was to stay at home, break the chain and save lives, he said.

Dr Bloomfield encouraged people to look after themselves and other people.

New Zealand Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black reiterated that from 11.59pm last night, the country would be at Level 4.

“Everyone must stay home and all businesses must close, except essential services,” she said.

The state of emergency allows Ms Stuart-Black to direct resources and gives her new powers to support the response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

These include the power to requisition essential supplies, road closures, and stopping people from doing activities which may contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

“I want to emphasise the critical importance of everybody doing their part, so we can save lives and beat Covid-19,” Ms Stuart-Black said.

“Each of you has a role in helping to save a life.

“People must self-isolate, and must stop all interactions with others outside of their households.

“We are hoping that people have heard the messages and understood how bad it could get.”

A nationwide emergency alert was to be issued between 6pm to 7pm last night to reinforce to New Zealanders how critical these actions were.

In response to questions, Ms Stuart-Black said there would be no tolerance for people who did not comply, and that police had powers to enforce compliance.