There are 76 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says.

One is a probable case that has now been confirmed, but there were no additional probable cases today, he said.

63 have now recovered. There are 589 total cases now.

12 people are in hospital, three are expected to be discharged soon.


One person in hospital with coronavirus died yesterday in Greymouth.

There has been an average of 1728 tests a day. Of 455 cases, 26 per cent are close contacts of existing cases and just 10 cases, or 2 per cent, are community transmission.

The remainder are travel related.

Bloomfield said people over 65, frontline health workers, pregnant women and those with respiratory conditions would have priority for flu vaccinations, and asked others to please wait.

"You should not be seeking a vaccination or expecting to be called until at least mid April."

He said 800,000 vaccinations had been distributed and there were plenty of vaccinations in the country.

Bloomfield urged people to sign up to Flu Tracker to report flu symptoms.

After the death in Westport of a woman who was originally believed to have influenza, Bloomfield said new guidance had been sent to DHBs to treat patients with influenza symptoms as if they were Covid-19 until the testing had confirmed otherwise.


On home support workers' concerns about visiting multiple homes without the equipment, Bloomfield said there was advice on the website now for their situation. He said they were now working with home care providers to ensure those workers had masks to use if required.

Bloomfield said there were nine cases in the Matamata cluster. It linked to a St Patrick's Day celebration at a local business in the town.

Bloomfield said there was now much more capacity to do contact tracing. There were 100 people in the national contact centre, and those numbers were increasing. Every contact for cases other than in the last two days had been followed up with a phone call.

On measures hospitals were taking, Bloomfield said anybody coming into the ED was being screened and if there was respiratory illness they would be taken to a different area. All visitors - from staff to courier drivers - were also being screened to ensure they had no symptoms.

More than 4540 New Zealanders had returned from overseas since the lockdown began.

Of those 94 were symptomatic and in quarantine, 1200 did not have a self-isolation plan so were in "managed self-isolation".

Police were called last night to a backpackers' party involving up to 60 people in a Queenstown park.Footage from the area shows backpackers spilling out of Deco Backpackers, which backs onto Rotary Park on Lake St in Queenstown. Video / James Allan

Nine of the confirmed cases were in hospital - one in Whangārei, three in Wellington, one in Blenheim, one in Nelson, one in Waikato, one in Taranaki and one in Dunedin.

One person was in intensive care on a ventilator.

Bloomfield said the vast majority of confirmed cases were still linked to overseas travel or close connection with another confirmed case.

He had no doubt the levels of community transmission would be on the rise, but because of the delay in showing symptoms of Covid-19 rather the extent of the outbreak.

"The other important thing here is that the infections diagnosed today are people who were infected five, seven, 10 days ago, which is why we will expect to see the numbers increasing for a while yet," he told RNZ.

The Ministry of Health is now investigating seven clusters of the respiratory virus across the country.


These include Auckland's Marist College, which has 31 confirmed and five probable cases; and the World Hereford Conference, with 17 confirmed and two probable cases; and one in Hamilton's Atawhai Assisi Rest Home, which has 11 confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet will meet again this afternoon and supermarkets are on the agenda.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wants to ensure that supermarket supply chains, pricing, and customer and staff welfare are all up to scratch, given their importance to New Zealanders during the lockdown.

"We don't have legal footing to enforce specials, but we can on price gouging," Ardern told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today.

She added that the Government had seen no evidence of that so far.