There are no new Covid-19 cases today and the Government has announced $37 million for the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said there were now only 22 active cases in New Zealand.

There are no additional deaths to report, and there is one person in hospital.

There were 1841 tests conducted yesterday, taking the total number of tests to 263,156 so far.


Life under alert level 1

Bloomfield said New Zealand was relaxing its restrictions faster than other countries, including Australia, and the Government was "acutely" aware that level 2 still imposed restrictions on some businesses.

Officials were looking at what life under level 1 will look like, and that would be announced in due course.

Shot in the arm for Covid-19 vaccine

The Government has allocated $37 million for local development of a Covid-19 vaccine and to join the international efforts.

It has also created a vaccine strategy and a taskforce to oversee its implementation.

Bloomfield said it would allow New Zealand scientists to contribute, and onshore production would be possible if that was required.

He said he was confident there was no community transmission in New Zealand.

"The border is our riskiest area and it is a critical part of the Government's overall strategy."

Bloomfield said if we were the UK we would have had 3000 to 3500 deaths and would still in lockdown so a vaccine was critical to both domestic and international efforts.


He warned the 12-18 months would be "exceedingly rapid" for a vaccine to be developed and manufactured.

New Zealand would welcome a vaccine if available in September but all the best estimates are that it would be longer than that.

In order to manufacture a vaccine in New Zealand, it would be done under a licensing arrangement which would require a lot of international co-ordination, he said.

New Zealand will stick with the 14-day quarantine as it was the "gold standard", said Bloomfield.

The ministry is starting to think about the vaccine roll out and but the goal would be to roll it out as quickly as possible, but it would be "bespoke" with a specific workforce. The rollout wouldn't necessarily mirror the flu vaccine strategy.

Despite there being low levels of influenza in the community, Bloomfield still urged New Zealanders to get jabs as we couldn't be overly cautious about this.


Over the past three months, the biggest challenge was incomplete information and it's hard to recall how little we knew in the early days, said Bloomfield.

The thing Bloomfield was most proud of and what he said "stunned" him was the extent to which New Zealanders listened to the advice and how quickly we were able to get on top of the virus.

The regions which had seen a spike in rheumatic fever "were very interesting", said Bloomfield as it was limited to a few regions.

Bloomfield said rheumatic fever hadn't slipped under the radar as there was a high-level awareness in the public health units around the country. He said anyone with a sore throat, particularly children, needed to be assessed.

The fourth day in a row without new cases comes as Kiwis face four more weeks of physical distancing obligations and limits on social gatherings at alert level 2, but from Friday midday will be able to have 100 people at weddings and funerals - as well as private parties.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that the low number of new Covid-19 cases, including only three in the past fortnight, allowed the current 10-person limit on gatherings and 50-person limit on funerals and tangi to be eased.


But instead of increasing the limit in stages, as Australia is doing, Ardern said it could jump straight to 100 from Friday.

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Ardern also revealed that New Zealand would remain at alert level 2 for at least four more weeks.

Cabinet will review the level 2 settings on June 8 - but will not consider whether the country is ready to move to level 1 until June 22.

If ready, New Zealanders would be given a few days' notice before the alert level was to drop.

The move this Friday to lifting to 100 the mass-gathering limit is likely to be welcomed by event organisers, churches, wedding planners and funeral directors who have all been stymied by the alert level restrictions to date.


As long as the group size, at any event, was less than 100, spectators could attend sports matches as long as they're socially distanced.

Ardern clarified that the three Ss - seated, single server, and separation - will still apply for bars and restaurants to reduce mixing and mingling with strangers, meaning public dance floors will still have to remain empty.

But private parties with dance floors have been given the green light, where physical distancing rules will be effectively reduced to guidelines rather than obligations.

Asked about people planning a party for Friday night, Ardern said: "Keep a list of who you've invited."

The current settings under alert level 1 have no restrictions on social gatherings, and no obligations - only an encouragement - for physical distancing. Border restrictions will continue.

There were no new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, and with no new recoveries, the number of active cases remains at 27.


Yesterday the Ministry of Health published its definition of elimination - a broad range of control measures to stop the transmission of Covid-19.

"Elimination does not mean eradicating the virus permanently from New Zealand; rather it is being confident we have eliminated chains of transmission in our community for at least 28 days and can effectively contain any future imported cases from overseas."

It is unclear if that meant 28 days of no new cases was a prerequisite for success.

Bloomfield said yesterday that elimination was an ongoing process.

"There's still a pandemic out there. Even if we're confident there's no transmission of disease inside the country, the possibility of it coming in means we need to maintain an elimination approach.

"If we do get a case, we need to be able to test, we need to be able to isolate and contact trace."


A 28-day Covid-free window was similar to a definition proposed yesterday in an Otago University public health blog, authored by Professors Nick Wilson, Michael Baker, and Martin Eichner, and Drs Matthew Parry and Ayesha Verrall.

The modelling outlined in the blog showed that no new cases for between 27 and 33 days meant that Covid-19 was eradicated with 95 per cent probability.

For a 99 per cent level of probability, the blog said the time period for no new cases would be between 37 to 44 days.