There are no new Covid-19 cases in Northland, the Ministry of Health confirmed today.
This comes as the number of cases country-wide rise by five – three probable and two confirmed – bringing the total up to 1456 cases.
The cases were linked to overseas travel and existing clusters with one case still being investigated.
Director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay also reported the death of a man in his 60s from the Christchurch Rosewood Rest Home, bringing the death toll of that cluster to 10.
McElnay said the latest death once again illustrated the impact of the disease. She said the man had existing comorbidities so, while he was in his 60s, he did have serious underlying health conditions.
Eight people remain in hospital with one patient in ICU care.
In total, 1095 New Zealanders have now recovered from Covid-19.
When asked about increased community testing, McElnay said district health boards had been following advice by the Ministry of Health to reach out to rural areas:
"There are quite a number of communities that have been reached out to, particularly in Northland and we're still receiving feedback from these out-reach programmes," she said.
None of those additional community tests had yet picked up new cases.
McElnay said the ministry was currently working together with DHBs to develop a targeted testing strategy that could see increased testing in aged care facilities.
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The ministry also agreed to extend locum support to keep vulnerable rural general practices operating as they come under mounting pressure as a result of Covid-19.
The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive, Dalton Kelly, said with many surgeries cancelled and urban clinics running significantly reduced services, there are urban healthcare professionals with insufficient work.
At the same time, the chronic shortage of healthcare professionals in rural communities remains and has been exacerbated by Covid-19.
"Many of New Zealand's rural practices rely on a very small number of healthcare professionals, and that number is dropping every year. Rural practices are increasingly reliant on short-term, contract and international health workers.
"Helping rural practices access the skills and expertise of other healthcare professionals can help ensure our rural communities get through this pandemic in good shape."
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson gave updates on the Government's three-phase plan to reboot the economy at today's briefing.
The first wave has been underway to fight the virus and cushion the economic benefit.
The second phase of the economic plan would get underway under alert level 3 with more industries and businesses opening up, he said.
And wave three was ensuring New Zealand had a robust and regenerating economy and would look at productivity, sustainability and inequality.
Robertson reminded New Zealanders to remain vigilant and stick to all lockdown rules, even as we move to alert level 3 and will notice more economic-related travel.
"Getting the virus under control now means we'll get our economy back to more sooner and ahead of many other countries."
On potential mortgage defaults, Robertson said the mortgage deferral scheme was in place, and they were trying to limit unemployment as much as possible.
The Government wasn't looking at mortgage holders specifically, but at New Zealand as a whole, he said.
According to Robertson, the number of jobseekers is smaller than in other countries, but he said we wouldn't understand the full impact of Covid-19 on unemployment until some months in the future.
The minister also briefly mentioned sport saying the Ministry of Sport and Recreation would release more detailed guidance this afternoon about what sport and recreation activity could happen under alert level 3.
Robertson could confirm that more recreation activities were now possible, including fishing from the shore, non-motorised water activity close to the shore, hunting under restrictions and activities like tennis and golfing.