New Zealand has recorded its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since March 21, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern implements a new quarantine on Kiwis arriving from overseas, and sticks with her planned election date. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• New Zealand has 29 new cases of Covid-19 - the lowest number since March 21. The new cases are made up of 23 confirmed cases and six probable cases. There are now 317 recovered cases – an increase of 35 on yesterday, higher than the number of new cases. Fourteen people are in hospital and four in ICU. The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1239. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said it was hard to predict the future, but was encouraged that today was the fourth consecutive day when the number of new cases decreased. Additionally, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is implementing a new quarantine from midnight tonight for all Kiwis arriving from overseas, and said that Cabinet will make a decision on a possible move out the alert level 4 lockdown on April 20 - two days before the lockdown is due to be lifted.
• Education Minister Chris Hipkins is warning that not all schools will reopen as soon as the lockdown ends, saying parents would need to prepare to have their kids at home for longer than the lockdown period. "It's going to be a progressive reopening of the system, rather than a big bang all at once," he said, noting the same will apply for tertiary institutions and early childhood centres. Although Hipkins said that at alert level 3 there would be more flexibility, it would take a while for most schools to reopen. Two new educational TV channels, in English and Māori, will launch on Wednesday, while home learning packs and devices are being distributed to support children learning from home during the lockdown.
• Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is advocating for September's election to be delayed by two months, given the impacts of Covid-19. The Prime Minister confirmed earlier this year the election would take place on September 19, and is sticking to that date, but noted today that it would continue to be reviewed. "It is too soon to make a determination of where we will be, even in a month," Ardern said. Peters has also spoken of the "huge tensions" between looking after the health of New Zealanders but also saving the country's economy - and wants to come out of the alert level 4 lockdown as quickly as possible.
• New modelling has revealed the bullet that New Zealand dodged by going into lockdown, with data suggesting officials would've otherwise been reporting several hundred new cases today. Instead of just 29 cases being reported, the alternative scenario could have seen around 200 new cases announced today – and perhaps 350 daily cases reported around this time next week, say researchers at Te Pūnaha Matatini.
Listen live to Newstalk ZB's coronavirus coverage
Around the world
• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition is improving and he is now "sitting up in bed" after spending two nights in the intensive care unit. Johnson tested positive for coronavirus nearly two weeks ago and has spent two nights receiving treatment in St Thomas' Hospital. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the Prime Minister, who is still in intensive care, was receiving "excellent care". It comes as England recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with another 828 deaths pushing Britain's total death toll past 7000.
• The total number of people infected with coronavirus in Australia has passed 6000, and the death toll has reached 50. Two further deaths were announced this morning after a horror four days that added 20 people to Australia's death toll. Despite that, federal and state health officials are cautiously optimistic after several days of declining rates of new infections.
• More than 70,000 Kiwis have approached their bank for some form of mortgage relief, a tally of numbers from our major lenders shows. Banks say they are being approached in large numbers by customers seeking to defer mortgage payments for six months or seeking to reduce payments to interest only. "We have never seen anything like it at this sort of scale," ANZ CEO Antonia Watson said. All the major banks said they had seen similar surges from customers seeking help on some kind of mortgage relief.
• Never in their worst dreams could New Zealand business leaders have imagined the havoc Covid-19 would wreak. As they try to wrestle chaos into some order, Anne Gibson talks to Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor.
• There could be some light at the end of the tunnel for sports-starved fans. New Zealand's early measures are looking promising for domestic sport's eventual return, while some Australian codes seem to be doing all they can to get back on the field. There could even be a few sports back up and running as early as next weekend, via innovative or plainly odd ideas. Joel Kulasingham looks at the possible return dates for all the major codes.
Check our graphic for the latest case numbers in New Zealand.