NZ’s coronavirus cases climb to 39 but ‘no evidence’ of community spread

Shopping jitters
Shopping jitters over coronavirus in the New Zealand capital of Wellington. Image: RNZ News

By RNZ News

New Zealand faced another day today consumed by Covid-19 coronavirus developments.

The nation woke with the news that the country’s borders had been closed to anyone who was not a citizen or a permanent resident still fresh.

Health Minister David Clark said the restrictions at the border would remain in place for the foreseeable future.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera live coronavirus updates – Italy deaths top 3405, 41,000 cases

Among the major developments was the Ministry of Health’s confirmation of 11 new cases in New Zealand, bringing the total to 39.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashely Bloomfield said said there was no evidence yet that the virus was circulating in the community – and some of the 11 had been linked to overseas travel – but health officials were still investigating some cases.

All of the latest victims were at home in self-isolation.

Five of the 11 were in Auckland, two were in Hamilton, two in Wellington, and one each in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.

Dr Bloomfield said one of the people announced yesterday that had the virus – a man in his 60s – was in Queenstown Lakes Hospital in a stable condition.

Air New Zealand protection
New Zealand’s sharemarket opened modestly higher this morning after Wall Street rallied, however, the national airline Air New Zealand’s share price slumped by 34 percent as it resumed trading after a four-day halt.

Later in the morning, the government revealed it was stepping in to help protect Air New Zealand from the turmoil caused by Covid-19, providing up to $900 million in loans.

The airline will be able to call on the loan if its cash reserves fall below an undisclosed level over the next two years, and the government – which already owns 52 percent of the company – will have the ability to turn the loan into shares in the airline.

Despite that, the airline’s chief executive Greg Foran still said 30 percent of the workforce would not be needed.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)
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