The Ministry of Health says that there are no new cases of Covid-19 in the past day.

Of the 224 tests so far complete, the number of positive tests remained at five, the ministry said in a media release this morning.

The dedicated Covid-19 Healthline - 0800 358 5453 - received more than 2600 calls yesterday, almost double the number of calls for the same time last year.

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The ministry said World Health Organisation reports "from what we currently know suggests Covid-19 spreads less efficiently than influenza but it causes more severe illness than influenza".

"Transmission does not appear to be driven by people who do not have symptoms," the statement said.

"There are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics but it can be contained – which is why we must do everything we can to contain it. Our plan fits with the World Health Organisation's recommendation of taking a comprehensive approach.

"Public health services here want to find any Covid-19 cases – this step is fundamental to an effective public health response and protecting the community.

"Finding cases means we can then take appropriate measures to prevent spread – as has been happening to date.

"We know we prevent spread by case finding, contact tracing and putting individuals in self isolation measures until the incubation period has passed."

Meanwhile, it's been reported Italy is considering travel restrictions on a quarter of its population in what would be considered an extreme effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

An official confirmed to the New York Times today that the measures being discussed would essentially close down the northern region of Lombardy, Italy's largest and most productive, accounting for a fifth of the country's GDP.

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People coming to New Zealand from northern Italy are already being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, as are people arriving from South Korea.

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Video / World Health Organization (WHO)

Two of the five confirmed cases in New Zealand had recently travelled to northern Italy and are now self-isolated in their Auckland home.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday that the fifth confirmed case was a woman in her 40s - the partner of the third Covid-19 case confirmed in New Zealand. Both are in self-isolation at home.

A sixth person was considered "probable" after a woman in her 70s was unwell after returning from a holiday on the Grand Princess cruise ship in the US, where 21 people who had been on board tested positive.

In all, there have been 218 tests in New Zealand and five had returned positive. There were another two probable cases - the woman in her 70s and the grandfather of two people already confirmed to have the virus.

After finishing the cruise, the woman had flown back from San Francisco to Auckland on Flight NZ7 (on February 25). She was admitted to hospital with a respiratory illness and tested for the virus but returned a negative result.

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However, health officials said yesterday they believed she was a probable case, and 43 hospital staff who came into close contact with her have been stood down for the remainder of the 14-day isolation period since they treated her.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is following up on reports that three crew members on the ship are New Zealanders.

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says people who are sick should stay at home. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says people who are sick should stay at home. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The ministry was also contacting people on the flight who were considered in close contact with the woman, and was asking them to self-isolate for the rest of the 14-day period.

Two other New Zealand passengers from the cruise ship have mild symptoms and had been tested, but neither had returned a positive result.

Advice to combat the spread of Covid-19 includes washing and drying hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying at home from school or work if sick.

The Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday that one of the people who had contracted the virus had attended a concert by American rock band Tool at Spark Arena in Auckland on the previous Friday.

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The man had been in self-isolation since Wednesday and did not require hospital-level care.

The ministry said the risks were very low for other people at the concert, and that attendees who were near the man should be aware of the symptoms and call Healthline if concerned.

The man was in the general admission section at Tool concert in the front left-hand corner of Spark Arena.

On Thursday, the ministry confirmed the first person-to-person transmission of the virus inside New Zealand.

A family member of an infected man – and an Aucklander in his 40s – had been in Iran and returned to New Zealand on a Qatar Airlines flight from Doha to Auckland on February 23, flight number QR0920.