The amount of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand has reached its lowest total in a fortnight, as police look to clamp down on those flouting lockdown rules over Easter. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.

Key developments in NZ

• There are 50 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand - the lowest daily total reported in a fortnight. "I remain cautiously optimistic that we are starting to turn a corner," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, while Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also revealed 41 more people with coronavirus had recovered in the past 24 hours. Today's 50 cases - four fewer than what was reported yesterday - are made up of 26 confirmed cases and 24 probable cases. The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand since the pandemic began is 1210. There are 12 people in hospital, including four in ICU, with two in a critical condition. The falling cases come as Kiwi kids gear up to start school from home. Ardern said the second term of schools would return next week, but it would look different due to the lockdown.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo / Mark Mitchell

• More than 40 people are facing prosecution for flouting lockdown rules, as police gear up for checkpoints over Easter. New Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said New Zealand was now at a stage where people knew the rules - but some were flouting them anyway, including surfers. There have been 45 prosecutions of people breaching lockdown rules - up from 16 just days ago – while another 367 people had been issued warnings, up 76 from yesterday. Anyone planning to get away for a Easter break should "change your plans immediately", Coster said.

New Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo / Mark Mitchell
New Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo / Mark Mitchell

• New Zealand's tourism sector is not dead - but it is in a "deep slumber" and 100,000 jobs are on the line, MPs have been told. Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts told the Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee that the industry had been forced to go into "hibernation". The Government's wage subsidy scheme was welcomed by tourist operators - but up to 100,000 jobs could still disappear, Roberts said, predicting a loss of $12 billion in spending over the next six months.


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Around the world

• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in a stable condition with the coronavirus in a hospital intensive care unit, where he was given oxygen but was breathing on his own without a ventilator, officials said. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Johnson remained "in good spirits" and had been given "standard oxygen treatment", though questions have begun over who is in charge of the UK Government with Johnson hospitalised. The death toll in the UK reached 6159 today, after 786 more people died in hospital.

• United States President Donald Trump has threatened to freeze US funding to the World Health Organisation, saying the international group had "missed the call" on the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also played down the release of January memos from a senior adviser that represented an early warning of a possible coronavirus pandemic, saying he had not seen them at the time. The WHO declared Covid-19 a public health emergency on January 30, nearly a month before Trump tweeted that "the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA" and 43 days before he declared a national emergency in the US. Health experts have suggested that the weekly death totals will reach a new high in the US this week.

Trump says he will put a stop to US funding for the WHO. Video / AP

Business update

• Many Kiwi businesses will fail during the Covid-19 lockdown if the Government doesn't urgently put together a rent relief deal, the Auckland Business Chamber has warned. Already 30 per cent of businesses surveyed in an Auckland Business Confidence report released this morning indicated they would not make it through the global pandemic. An earlier Government wage subsidy had helped businesses retain staff but could be for nought if businesses - currently earning no or reduced incomes - folded anyway due to high rents, industry figures said. ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley has also argued that more Government support will likely be needed, in new forms, to keep small businesses afloat.

Perspective: with Heather du Plessis-Allan - Businesses need more help.

• A new report claims that the Government's wage subsidy will "insufficiently protect" New Zealanders from the worst to come during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report, put together by think tank The New Zealand Initiative, compares the wage subsidy schemes of 26 OCED countries. Germany is ranked as the country with the best financial support package available during the pandemic, followed by Denmark and then Britain. New Zealand's fiscal response to the virus is ranked middle of the pack, with their per-capita fiscal response rating "somewhat below average".

In sport

• Golf courses across New Zealand are calling for an essential service exemption as they face the "risk of catastrophic turf death" amounting to $10 million. Sports facilities are not on the essential services list as it stands - and golf courses are not allowed to have a single maintenance worker tending to the course. However, New Zealand Golf claim that if critical parts of courses – such as putting greens - do not receive some basic maintenance over the shutdown period, then many courses will not be able to afford to re-open.

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