There are no new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand today and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says he wants to keep it that way.

It is the first time in close to six weeks that testing has not uncovered a single case across a 24 hour period.

There are no additional deaths to report and the death toll remains at 20. The total number of cases is 1487. One probable case had since been upgraded to confirmed but that does not change the total number of cases. There are four people in hospital.

"Clearly these are encouraging figures today but it is just one moment in time,"
Bloomfield said.

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But the true test will come later in the week after the incubation period which will show if there were any new cases as a result of stepping down to alert level 3.

New Zealand cannot afford to squander the hard work and the advantage we've "worked so hard for", said Bloomfield.

He now needed to be certain there was no community transmission so it was important continued to follow the level 3 rules as later this week they would truly know whether there were other infections due to the incubation period of Covid-19.

It was a risk that people now get complacent and celebrate zero cases so it was "very important" people stuck to the rules and remained diligent.

It is cause for celebration and it was symbolic of the effort that everyone had put in, Bloomfield said.

"This is the first day we've had no new cases and we want to keep it that way."

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The Ministry of Health had provided advice for the meeting, Bloomfield said.

Among the issues likely to be on the Australian agenda is the Australian Government's Covidsafe app to assistant with contact tracing and a possible Transtasman travel bubble.

Testing at Marist College

Bloomfield commended the action Marist College to offer testing to the wider school community. "I am strongly supportive of this initiative."

Bloomfield said it was a "specific" decision made to help allow the school to open.

In other clusters, there had been "quite widespread" testing around wider nonsymptomatic contacts, particularly in outbreaks at aged care facilities.

The move to alert level 2

Numbers of cases have been falling steadily since the early days of New Zealand's lockdown. For more than a fortnight daily case numbers have been in the single digits.

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Three new cases were announced on Friday, six on Saturday and two on Sunday.

New Zealand's success in stamping out coronavirus has been applauded by many other countries around the world which are still desperately trying to get Covid-19 under control.

Despite calls from some regions like the West Coast (which has recorded no new cases in two weeks) to move out of alert level 3 early, Bloomfield said New Zealand was maintaining a single national approach.

It's the right decision currently to keep everyone under alert level 3, he said but regional variations might be looked at in the future

New Zealand doesn't need a contact-tracing app in order to go into alert level 2.

There wasn't a specific number of alert level 3 breaches that would stop a drop-down to alert level 2 but Bloomfield once again said now wasn't the time for complacency.

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"We're nearly there - let's not slacken off now."

On the level 2 rules, Bloomfield said they'd provided advice on what can and can't be allowed and said the Prime Minister would update after Cabinet.

On opening up domestic travel, retail and domestic travel under alert level 2, Bloomfield said none were a concern per se, but it would make him nervous if there was a relaxing of social distancing and staying home if sick.

On whether two weeks was long enough given the incubation period, Bloomfield said it would be later this week they would see if there were new cases emerging.

But it might be that we still see cases emerge in level 2 which is why the contact-tracing and testing were in place.

The key to moving to alert level 2 was a low number of cases, knowing where they came from and people were continuing to follow the public health guidelines.

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The Ministry was watching developments in rapid and antibody testing, but they still weren't sufficiently reliable, Bloomfield said.

Nurses testing positive for Covid-19

Three nurses at Waitakere Hospital in Auckland who cared for people infected with Covid-19 have tested positive for the disease.

On why there aren't ministry guidelines on nurses moving between wards, Bloomfield said it came down to each hospital.

On standing down 57 staff at Waitakere Hospital as a result of the positive tests, Bloomfield said he'd spoken to the Waitemata DHB chief executive who said they'd managed staffing and there weren't any shortage issues.

Record number of flu jabs

On flu vaccines, Bloomfield said by vaccinating as many people as possible New Zealand lowered the risk of other strains on the healthcare system - particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

It had been a record year for vaccinations.

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There was a "very low level" of influenza in the community this year, thanks to the lockdown which had stopped all sorts of respiratory illnesses as well as Covid-19, Bloomfield said.

Nearly 1.4 million doses had been distributed and about 700,000 were yet to be administered at GPs, pharmacies, and other providers.

But Bloomfield said there had been some problems with distribution and urged any provider to get in touch with their vaccine co-ordinator.

He reiterated the health advice to get tested if you were sick and asked people to make sure their phone details were up to date with their GP.

Bloomfield also thanked the media for keeping the public informed and asking the "hard questions".

PM Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand can take heart from there being no new coronavirus cases today. But she says it reflects the success of the lockdown rather than actions during level three.

On the transtasman bubble

Bloomfield said in relation to a trans-tasman bubble, both New Zealand and Australia would need to be comfortable with it and he was confident we could "move in tandem" if the governments agreed it

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