Infectious disease expert Dr Siouxsie Wiles, who has quickly become one of the faces for trusted information on Covid-19, is taking to Facebook to answer your pandemic questions.

The microbiologist, who recently found herself under the Herald's microscope, continues to warn people to stay in their bubble as the virus continues to spread. She is due to answer audience questions each day at 3.30pm.

She emphasised that the numbers of confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases will continue to rise because the virus has an incubation period of two-to-10 days.

"Because we've only been in lockdown for six days, what we're seeing now is still the stuff that was happening before our lockdown.


"So, we are expected our numbers to get higher, and in about 10 days' time, we should start seeing the effect our lockdown."

When asked about how long the coronavirus can remain on surfaces, Wiles referenced a recent study which showed the virus was viable for four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and two-to-three days on plastic and stainless steel.

While it is possible that those with Covid-19 who are "shedding the virus" will put the virus on other things, such as packages, your chances of contracting the virus this way are very low, because there was probably a low amount of the virus on packaging.

"The vast majority of people who pick up this infection have done so through what's called close contacts, so that's living with someone, or being in very close contact with someone who has the virus."

Keep 2 metres away from anyone outside your bubble when you leave the house, wash your hands when you get home and try not to touch your face, she advised.

"If you're shopping for somebody vulnerable, you could take extra precautions, which would be to maybe shop in advance so that you could give all of the items a bit of a quick clean or put them aside for maybe three days," she said.

This only applies to non-perishable items, such as tins of food and cereal.

"Cereal, being cardboard, would probably only need 24 hours but you could certainly leave it for a couple of days if you were worried.


"And things like fruit and veg, maybe milk bottles and things, you could probably just give them a wash down with some soapy water."

But give your fruit and veg another once-through under the tap to avoid soapy undertones at your next meal.

Focus: How to stop the spread of coronavirus. Video / AP / Mark Mitchell

You should wash your hands for 20 seconds after being outside, before preparing food or eating and after going to the toilet, Wiles said.

"This is the new regime. We have to get really good at doing these 20-second washes."

But that doesn't mean the water tap needs to be running the whole time.

"For those people worried about not having enough water, maybe you're on tank water, remember you don't have to have the tap running for 20 seconds.

"You can just wet your hands and get up a nice lather of soap, then do your 20 seconds and then turn the tap back on and rinse."

Fifty-eight new cases of Covid-19 were announced on Tuesday, with the total number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand now at 647.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said while there had been a drop in the number, he didn't think that it reflected a drop in the number of cases. The expectation was still that the number of cases would continue to rise.

Fourteen people are in hospital, two of whom are in intensive care units in a stable condition.

Anne Guenole died of the virus on Sunday morning. The 73-year-old was admitted to Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth on Wednesday with suspected influenza.

Her family told the Herald she barely travelled outside of her West Coast home.

She had only been in contact with one traveller they knew of, her son Peter who had returned from Australia five weeks ago. She had also attended a funeral in Greymouth with some attendees from the North Island about 10 days before she fell ill.

Bloomfield said there was still a strong link to overseas travel and contact with already confirmed cases.

Clusters would be investigated and contact-traced.

Seventy-four people with coronavirus have since recovered, he said.

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People should take the worst-case scenarios - which suggested 14,000 people could die if Covid-19 spreads out of control in New Zealand - "very seriously" as they show what would happen if the country didn't take lockdown measures, he said.

Bloomfield said it was up to the Government how long NZ would be in lockdown.

Ideally, NZ wanted to break the chain of transmission and ultimately eradicate the virus.

The country has been on lockdown since Thursday, when the Covid-19 alert level was raised to four, severely restricting the movements of Kiwis and enforcing the closure of all non-essential businesses. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website