NZ lockdown – day 22: Lowest case increase as pandemic bites media

RNZ montage
A clinic was set up outside Frankton Pak'nSave today to begin randomly, and voluntarily, swab testing 300 people. Image: RNZ montage

By RNZ News

New Zealand has had the lowest daily increase of Covid-19 coronavirus infection cases since lockdown began last month, the Prime Minister has provided details on what a scale down to alert level 3 would like, and the pandemic bites into media companies Stuff and NZME – and NZ Rugby.

In today’s afternoon briefing, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were 15 new cases of Covid-19, made up of six confirmed and nine probable cases.

It is the lowest number of daily cases reported since March 22, four days before level four began.

READ MORE: How the ‘chief covidiot’ has blocked world health unity with WHO freeze

There have been no new deaths, as the toll stands at nine, but a post-mortem on an Invercargill man is being done to determine whether he died of Covid-19 or another cause.

Currently there are 88 people in quarantine – the total number of those in quarantine and self-isolating in hotels was at 1189.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said several positive tests yesterday were from people in quarantine.

Twelve people are in hospital with Covid-19, three are in intensive care, and two are in a critical condition. There were still 16 significant clusters around the country, with 11 of the new cases connected to them.

Targeted sentinel testing
Dr Bloomfield also confirmed targeted sentinel testing was underway in Queenstown, where there was concerns about community transmission due to the relatively high number of cases reported.

He said the testing would “build the picture of whether there is any community transmission happening in Queenstown”.

“And we are also looking actively at two or three other places around the country where this will happen.”

A clinic was set up outside Frankton Pak’nSave this morning to begin randomly, and voluntarily, swab testing 300 people. This testing is expected to end tomorrow, with the results set to be shared with the Ministry of Health.

The total number of Covid-19 tests conducted in the past 24 hours was 3661.

Alert level 3 clarified
In the afternoon briefing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the unveiled details about alert level 3 should not be seen as foreshadowing Cabinet’s decision on Monday about whether to move out of the level 4 lockdown.

Ardern said the strategy was to win the fight against the virus and transition into recovery.

“We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand. The last thing we want to do, when moving levels, is give away the gains that we have won in lockdown.”

She reiterated her previous message that level 3 would be like “a waiting room” – to wait and see if the lockdown measures had worked and whether or not it was safe to lower the alert level. She said the same message remained at level 3: Stay home, save lives.

Under alert level 3, New Zealanders would still not be able to freely socialise but bubbles could be expanded slightly, Ardern said.

‘Keep your bubble’
“Keep your bubble, the more we can limit the new people everyone is exposed to the better, but at level 3, you can expand your bubble [by] a small amount,” she said.

“If you have a caregiver you need in your life, children who might be in a shared care arrangement, a de facto partner who is caring for others or you’re a single person who wants the company of a sibling, for example … Keep it exclusive though, keep it small.”

It would not be until alert level 2 that controls and socialising principles would be loosened, she said.

However, Dr Bloomfield warned that people should use their judgement about whether to expand their bubble to include people over 70 under alert level 3.

He said elderly people could still be included in bubbles in a way that protected them – such as good hygiene, and physical distancing.

Stuff asks employees to take pay cut
Staff at media company Stuff have been asked to take a pay cut for the next 12 weeks because of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

Stuff employees were told the pay cut would be for 12 weeks Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

Chief executive Sinead Boucher said staff earning more than $50,000 are asked to take a 15 percent cut and the executive team a 25 percent reduction.

Boucher said she would take a 40 percent salary cut.

NZME, which runs Newstalk ZB and The New Zealand Herald, yesterday announced 200 job losses and suspended publication of popular newspaper supplements.

MediaWorks, which operates TV3 and a number of radio stations, asked its employees earlier in the month to take a 15 percent pay cut for six months.

Bauer Media, which has The Listener, Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, North and South and Next, has shut down.

Stuff had applied for the wage subsidy and had redeployed staff who could not work in their normal job during the lockdown, Boucher said.

NZ Rugby freezes 50 percent of player pay
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has also announced it is freezing $25 million, or 50 percent, of forecast player payments for 2020.

Beauden Barrett makes a break with Richie Mo'unga in support.
New Zealand Rugby … changes in payment structure, including for the All Blacks national team. Image: RNZ/Photosport

NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Player’s Association (NZRPA) has agreed to change the payments of players that play at Super Rugby level, including All Blacks, the national sevens programme and Black Ferns.

The freeze covers the base salary of players, assembly payments and other incentives, as well as reductions in player-funded welfare and development activities.

The maximum retainer for a top Super Rugby player is $195,000, the minimum is $75,000.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.
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