As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to steadily grow in New Zealand, new modelling released by the Government has revealed what could happen if the pandemic is not controlled. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• There are 48 new confirmed and 10 probable Covid-19 coronavirus cases in New Zealand, bringing the total number of cases to 647 since the start of the pandemic. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says the expectation was still that the number of cases would continue to rise. Fourteen people are in hospital - two people are in a stable condition in intensive care units. Bloomfield said there was still a strong link to overseas travel and contact with already confirmed cases.
• Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says supermarkets will be closed as usual on Good Friday but will be open on Easter Sunday. The Covid-19 committee's decision on Easter Trading was based on the need for staff to rest and for supermarkets to restock, but also that people needed access to essential food. They also wanted to ensure people didn't panic-buy. Asked whether a curfew could be necessary in New Zealand, Ardern said the current lockdown conditions were "stringent" enough. Earlier, former prime minister Sir John Key had raised questions about how New Zealand leaves the coronavirus level 4 alert.
• What will New Zealand life look like post-lockdown? According to experts, New Zealand may have to grapple with strict border controls for another year or more. And while some international markets could reopen with countries that have contained the deadly virus, Tourism Industry Aotearoa is looking at a timeline of up to five years before the $18b-a-year international tourism industry will get back on its feet.
Listen live to Newstalk ZB's coronavirus coverage
• New modelling released by the Government shows just how high a price New Zealand could pay if the coronavirus pandemic is not controlled. A team of Otago University researchers, who provided the modelling to the Ministry of Health, found that uncontrolled spread in the country could see up to 64 per cent of the population infected, 32,000 people hospitalised, and up to 14,400 deaths. Otago University Professor and epidemiologist Sir David Skegg also called on the Government to quarantine all people arriving in New Zealand from overseas, and to implement a much wider testing and contact-tracing regime to prevent needless deaths from Covid-19.
Around the world
• New York's Governor put out an urgent plea for medical volunteers and a Navy hospital ship pulled into port today as coronavirus deaths in the city mounted and hospitals buckled. "Please come help us in New York now. We need relief," Governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded as the number of dead in New York State climbed past 1200, with most of those victims dying in New York City. Authorities say it could be a preview of what other communities across the United States could soon face.
• The escalating nature of the crisis has led United States President Donald Trump to move off his hopes for an Easter rebirth for the nation's economy. Projections from leading doctors and the tragic images emanating out of New York caused Trump to make a U-turn on his original plan. "The worst that can happen is you do it too early and all of a sudden it comes back. That makes it more difficult," he said.
• Air New Zealand has started the "painful process" of slashing its workforce, with overseas staff first to face losing their jobs. A third of the airline's 12,500 staff may go as the impact of Covid-19 slashes the airline's revenue. Chief executive Greg Foran said the airline had cut more than 95 per cent of its flights in New Zealand and around the world, and warns that staff cuts may be even more drastic.
• There are renewed calls for the Government to defer a $1.20 increase to the minimum wage on the eve of it coming into effect. Tomorrow the minimum wage is set to move from $17.70 to $18.90 - this would see fulltime low-income workers take home an extra $48 a week before tax. One union says the increase is vital for the hundreds of thousands of workers doing it tough and whose lives are hard at the best of times. But business groups and the Opposition say employers are struggling to keep staff on under the Covid-19 lockdown, let alone pay them, as many sectors had zero revenue.
• In sport, new dates have been announced for the Tokyo Olympics, while New Zealand Warriors CEO Cameron George is adamant his club will survive the economic pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, as NRL bosses aim for a surprisingly early return.
Finally - be sure to grab a copy of Wednesday's New Zealand Herald, which includes a special 12-page puzzle book!
We also have an excellent range of puzzles and quizzes online and in the paper itself.
Check our graphic for the latest case numbers in New Zealand and around the world.