Number of Covid 19 clusters in New Zealand double

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Mar 2020, 6:03PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at today's press conference. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at today's press conference. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Number of Covid 19 clusters in New Zealand double

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Mar 2020, 6:03PM

The number of Covid-19 "clusters" has doubled since Monday with the largest new group an Air Force rugby team that visited the United States.

In Marlborough six clients from a dementia group have also tested positive for the virus, and staff involved are now self-isolating.

Overall, the number of people in New Zealand confirmed with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours increased from 552 to 600, with another 47 probable cases.

The number of clusters has also increased from seven on Monday to 14 today.

A cluster is defined as a group of cases linked because they have been in the same place together.

The largest remains Auckland girls' school Marist College, which has 48 confirmed and probable cases, with one new case since yesterday.

Of the new clusters the largest is in Blenheim, described by the Ministry of Health as "Air Force rugby team US visit", which has nine cases recorded.

Other significant new clusters include a Bluff wedding, which has eight cases, and Alzheimers Marlborough with six cases.

A spokesman for Alzheimers New Zealand confirmed the Marlborough cases were clients of Alzheimers Marlborough, and staff involved were now all in self-isolation.

Hutt City cluster 1 has four cases, with three cases in Hutt City cluster 2. Colorado ski-boat builder and Spectrum Care in Auckland both have four cases.

There have been 11 new cases added to the Redoubt Bar cluster in Matamata, now 23 stemming from St Patrick's Day celebrations on March 17.

The cluster from the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown has also increased, with 24 cases now, up from 19 yesterday.

There are cases recorded in all 20 district health boards (DHBs). To date nationally 14 cases are in hospital, one person has died and 74 people have recovered.

Today's new statistics also show Southern DHB now has the highest number of cases, with 98, with Auckland DHB recording 97 cases and Waitematā 86. Tairāwhiti has the lowest number, with one case recorded.

The age group most affected is 20 to 29 years, with 169 cases, and women so far are disproportionately impacted with 350 cases compared to 289 in men, with eight not specified.

There have been 21,384 lab tests since March 3, and an average of 1777 in the past week.

Of the total cases, 53 per cent are linked to international travel and 29 per cent linked to known cases.

Just one per cent has been linked to community transmission and the origins of 17 per cent of cases are still being investigated.

Otago University Professor and epidemiologist Sir David Skegg told Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee he believed the testing had been skewed to people who have been overseas, and was therefore a poor indication of community transmission.

Prime Minister Jacinda admitted in Tuesday afternoon's press conference authorities weren't testing widely enough to tell where the community outbreaks were, so the case definition has been expanded.

Travel history and connection with a case was now not essential to being tested.

"I want more tests. We've built the capacity for more tests."

She said clinicians were deciding when it was appropriate to extend test criteria, not politicians.

Clusters under investigation - including probable cases
• Marist College, Auckland: 48 cases

• World Hereford Conference, Queenstown: 24 cases

• Redoubt Bar, Matamata: 23 cases

• Group travel to US, Wellington: 16 cases

• Assisi Rest home, Hamilton: 14 cases

• Boomrock wedding, Wellington: 11 cases

• Living Earth, Christchurch: 8 cases

• Air Force rugby team US visit, Blenheim: 9 cases

• Bluff wedding, Bluff: 8 cases

• Marlborough Alzheimers, Marlborough: 6 cases

• Hutt City cluster 1: 4 cases

• Hutt City cluster 2: 3 cases

• Colorado ski-boat builder, Auckland: 4 cases

• Spectrum care, Auckland: 4 cases