Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has raised the possibility coronavirus cases have peaked in New Zealand, as 82 new cases were revealed today, while a decision looms on whether to extend the lockdown. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.

Key developments in NZ

• New Zealand has 82 new Covid-19 cases - and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has raised the possibility cases may have peaked. 52 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases brings the total number of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand to 950, and Bloomfield said there has been a "flattening off" of new cases, but he would like to see another two or three days of lower new case numbers to be confident. Bloomfield said he would provide advice to Cabinet next week as to whether the lockdown should be extended, but was "increasingly confident" the lockdown measures are working.

• Hospitals are being reconfigured to cope for any potential surge of Covid-19 patients, with one doctor warning: "We are waiting for the storm to break." North Shore Hospital has repurposed a building, transforming its former Elective Surgery Centre into a coronavirus ward separate from other patients, doubling its intensive care capacity, while district health boards around the country have cleared their floors in anticipation of a potential influx, and have used the lockdown to train staff in managing the needs of Covid-19 patients.

Interview with frontline worker Simon Tattersfield, owner of Insite Logistics - a company that transports and installs medical devices around NZ. Video / Supplied

• The refrain has rung out in public health announcements and social media posts around the globe: "I stayed at work for you. You stay at home for us!" As New Zealand notched a week of level 4 lockdown on Thursday, the frontline workers performing essential services continue to put themselves at the greatest risk of Covid-19 exposure out in public. Tom Dillane meets the Kiwis who cannot stay at home.

The Weekend Herald front page.
The Weekend Herald front page.

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In depth

• A pub, a St Patrick's Day party and a highly contagious virus. What could possibly go wrong? Kirsty Johnston reports.

• One economist says we need an adult in the room. Another says we should forget about helping business and just focus on health. Doctors say their incomes have collapsed. Media companies, doing valuable work in a time of crisis, have started to close. The dob-in-your-neighbour lines are clogged. But also, even as Covid-19 numbers continue to rise, New Zealand is apparently doing better than almost any other country on the planet. If we're going to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic well, Simon Wilson lists five big things that have to be done.

Around the world

• More than 100,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in New York as the death toll from Covid-19 continues to climb. New York's infection rate is far more than most countries have reported - only Spain, Italy and the United States itself have passed 100,000 infections so far. The figure means the state of New York now accounts for 40 per cent of all 250,000 cases reported across the US. The state also reported its biggest jump in deaths today, with another 562 bringing its total death toll to 2935. Europe's three worst-hit countries — Italy, Spain and France — surpassed 30,000 dead, or over half of the global toll, but glimmers of hope have emerged that they might be flattening their infection curves.

• A battle is brewing over access to face masks and medical supplies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned the US not to block manufacturer 3M from sending respirators to Canada. 3M said the Trump administration had requested the company stop exporting respirators they currently manufacture in the US to Canada and Latin America. The company says there are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health care workers in Canada and Latin America, where 3M is a critical supplier of respirators.

Business update

• Their industry is losing hundreds of staff, with all businesses having made none or very few sales during the past month, but they are planning for a recovery. Grant Bradley looks at what the future holds for travel agents.

• In the coming days and weeks, thousands of businesses are likely to decide to close. Uncertainty of any kind is the enemy of confidence, writes Hamish Rutherford, who argues the fact that the Government is yet to articulate what it will take to ease lockdown restrictions means uncertainty is extreme – and that recent news from Fletcher Building underlines how important it is to successfully end the lockdown as soon as possible.

In sport

• Pay cuts continue to hit sporting sides, with the Warriors' players and staff having all made a considerable financial sacrifice, while the Highlanders have become the first Super Rugby side to slash salaries. New Zealand Rugby, meanwhile, are investigating innovative measures to get the sport back on track when it is safe to resume play.


Check our graphic for the latest case numbers in New Zealand.