Three New Cases of Covid-19 Reported in New Zealand

New Zealand has reported just three new cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the 12th day in a row the increase has remained in single digits.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said seven people are in hospital, but none are in intensive care.

Dr Bloomfield said there was now a total of 1129 confirmed cases, with 347 probable cases.

He said an earlier probable case had been reclassified as not a case.

“There was a significant increase in testing yesterday, with 5867 tests performed and our new total of tests in 134,570.”

Watch the latest media conference here:

He said 1241 people had now recovered from the coronavirus, an increase of 12 from yesterday. He said 84 percent of cases had now recovered.

The number of significant clusters remains at 16, and the death toll stands at 19.

Anyone who has received texts or phone calls about things like smear tests or childhood immunisations should follow this up as these have now resumed, Dr Bloomfield said.

“Please go and get that care, it’s very important not to delay what are essential parts of keeping well.”

Yesterday, two new cases were confirmed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while people can now enjoy takeaways, it is vital distancing was occurring and people needed to stay at home if there was no proper reason to be outdoors.

She said there have been 185 breaches under alert level 3, including 81 in the past 24 hours and 48 new warnings.

Police have advised that after a bit of a spike in the first 24 hours of alert level 3, things have calmed down, she said.

“Please continue to act like you have the virus when you are out and about and if you see breaches, please report them.

“Now is not the time to loosen up our compliance.”

She said a breach reporting tool set up by police had received 1035 complaints by 5.30pm yesterday, with 277 referred to the compliance assessment team.

“Of those, 104 have been tasked with further action by agencies. Some are being followed up by MBIE, police, WorkSafe and MPI, all dependent on the type of breach that may have occurred.

Ardern said she expected high standards to be upheld by takeaway services and enforcement was being taking seriously.

Parliament will pass a tax package, released through the tax system, under urgency to support small businesses, Ardern said.

“Many of our smaller Kiwi firms will be operating again under level 3, but they do still face tough times, so one thing I want to encourage everyone to do is to think about supporting local when you are engaging in contact-less trade.”

Source: Republished by arrangement.


Bluff Road Crash, Tractor & Truck Collide

The southbound lane of Bluff Road between Awarua Siding Road and Stanley Township Road was temporarily closed this afternoon after a crash involving a tractor and truck.

According to a St John spokesperson, the accident at around 4.40pm resulted in one person being taken to Southland Hospital with moderate injuries.

Police were in attendance and the road is now open.

No New Cases In Southern, Alliance Employees To Be Tested

The Ministry of Health has announced no new COVID-19 cases in the Southern district today, for the twelfth consecutive day. The region’s total remains 216, with 12 active cases, 202 now recovered and two deceased.


Community testing to include COVID-19 Alliance Group employees

Alliance Group employees in Southland and Otago will be tested for COVID-19 as part of continued voluntary surveillance testing of asymptomatic people throughout the community.

It follows the testing of 343 people at a Queenstown supermarket, and more targeted testing of 243 people at Queenstown hostel accommodation, and 37 at Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki marae over the past weeks. All of the results so far have been negative, and it is hoped that the same will occur with this further community testing in Southland and Otago.

The testing is part of Southern DHB’s surveillance activity to try to uncover any undetected disease in the community. Carried out by WellSouth PHO and general practices, the targeted testing is focusing on health care and other essential workers, Māori and Pacific people, and those with a history of international travel.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Jack, says that widespread testing of asymptomatic people provides vital information for Southern DHB and Ministry of Health planning.

“We are very grateful to Alliance Group for assisting with this, as they represent a large group of essential workers, as well as a culturally diverse workforce.

“Indeed, the support from all groups being tested, as well as the outstanding team of testers at WellSouth and from our general practices who are undertaking this important work around the district, is greatly appreciated.

“Our surveillance testing is voluntary but people are happy to be swabbed and do their bit to help stamp out COVID-19.”

“The negative results we are seeing suggests that our Alert Level 4 lockdown has helped us avoid widespread community transmission in our region,” Dr Jack says.

“WellSouth and its COVID testing team have been working hard to support public health to complete this vital community surveillance,” says WellSouth medical director Dr Stephen Graham. “I would also like to thank the people stepping up to offer to be tested to help ensure we identify any community transmission early.”

David Surveyor, chief executive of Alliance Group, says the co-operative wants to play its part in the fight against COVID-19.

“Keeping our people safe is paramount. We have introduced unprecedented precautions in our plants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including physical distancing and we are proud of the way our people have stepped up in these tough times in the best interests of the country.

“We welcome this opportunity to help protect the health of the Southland community and contribute to a better understanding of COVID-19.”

The testing will take place at Alliance’s Lorneville plant near Invercargill tomorrow and at the Pukeuri plant outside of Oamaru next week.


Alliance Group Investing $4 Million in Beef Processing in Southland

Leading food and solutions co-operative Alliance Group is investing $4 million to lift its beef processing capacity in the South Island.

The company will invest further in its 18-month-old venison plant at Lorneville near Invercargill to enable the facility to also process cull cows during peak season.

David Surveyor, chief executive of Alliance Group, said the investment is a key part of the co-operative’s beef growth strategy.

“As our supply volumes have continued to grow year on year, our farmers have been asking for more beef capacity in peak season. This investment recognises that need for our farmers.

“It means we will be able to make a meaningful difference for our farmers by processing some cull cows at Lorneville and freeing up space at Mataura for prime steer, heifer and bull.

“It is also a win for deer farmers because we will be increasing our venison processing capacity at the Lorneville plant.”

Alliance Group has been investing in strengthening its beef performance at its Mataura, Levin and Pukeuri plants, which processed record numbers of cattle during the 2018-19 season.

“We are serious about delivering on our strategy of investing in maximising our operational performance to benefit farmer-shareholders and create a stronger co-operative,” says Mr Surveyor.

“The beef expansion demonstrates the co-operative’s continued commitment to the Lorneville site.

“The Lorneville plant, which also includes ovine processing, is one of the largest sites in New Zealand, employing almost 2,000 people in total at peak capacity. We are planning additional investment to future-proof the operation and improve its long-term competitiveness.”

The co-operative is also investing in the development of a premium beef portfolio, he says.

The beef processing expansion at Lorneville should be in place by next season.

ICC Worker Wages Slashed In Half

Invercargill City Council workers who are not able to return to work at Alert Level 3 will have their wages cut in half, according to an ICC Staff Update newsletter.

On April 22, ICC chief executive Clare Hadley announced that pay cuts would commence after April 28, with April 27 a statutory holiday. Anyone who could not return to work, such as pool and library workers, would have their income reduced.

They could then choose to make up the difference with their annual leave and up to one week of a negative annual leave balance.

The decision came on the back of tighter cash flows anticipated in the coming months.

listen to the interview on midday report on Radio NZ below

“We anticipate that this time next year, our cash flows will be tighter as our community struggles to pay its rates bills. This is not someone else’s money – it’s yours because you are the community too. Roughly 25% of our operating expenditure is employee costs,” Clare says.

The Public Service Association says the lowest paid council staff predominantly work in pools and libraries and can’t afford to have their pay halved.

Watch: COVID-19 National Response Media Update, 30th April

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, will provide a COVID-19 update at 1.00 pm today.

  • Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there are 3 new cases of Covid-19; 1129 confirmed cases, 347 probable cases, 1476 cases in total.
    There are seven people in hospital.

No additional cases in the clusters.



Watch live: Epidemic Response Committee Discuss Poverty & Family Violence

The Epidemic Response Committee is holding its final meeting of the week.

Speaking at today’s meeting will be the prime minister’s former chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly, Women’s Refuge New Zealand chief executive Dr Ang Jury, Wise Group joint chief executive Jacqui Graham and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

Watch the meeting live here at 10am:

UPDATED: Car Crashes Into Building On Rimu Road

Updated: Police received a report of a car that had crashed and then the engine caught fire on Rimu Road at around 8pm. The vehicle had gone off the road and into a paddock. The driver was the only person in the vehicle and was reported to be status 3. Our last update was that the driver was being cared for by St John staff.

Police, Fire and Emergency services attended a car accident just out of Invercargill around 8pm. Police media centre confirmed to there was an accident on Rimu Road and initial indications suggest one person has moderate injuries.

Photos of the crash supplied reveal the extent of the crash.

Crash Rimu. Photo:

China’s Wild Meat Clampdown Affecting NZ Venison Exports

New Zealand venison farmers are being caught out by the Chinese government’s moves to clamp down on the trade of wild meat.

The confusion has prompted some processors here to hold off shipping venison to the country.

China has been tightening its rules on the trade of wild meat in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, which is thought to have originated in a wild-animal market in Wuhan.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said despite the venison it processes and exports being a farmed product, not a wild one, there had been some clearance issues for shipments to the country.

“There is a bit of confusion into China at the moment… there was a change whereby anything which was deemed to be wild meat was being excluded, now venison obviously was a farmed product and that just needed some clarification,” Limmer said.

“We’re still just waiting for confirmation that has been clarified and that we can ensure there are no hold-ups getting into that market.”

Last year only about 10 percent of New Zealand’s venison exports went to China, but Limmer said it was considered to be a growing market. Covid-19 had soften demand for venison in other countries, which meant restoring access to China had become even more important, he said.

“It’s a restaurant focused product, so at the moment with very few people around the world going out and eating through restaurants it is very very challenging for a product like venison…. so having China, a growing market, and the opportunity to spread that market mix a little bit further is really useful to us.”

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat said it was fortunate the disruption hadn’t hit at the peak of the export season in Spring. He said, while some venison had still managed to successfully enter China, it was working with the New Zealand government to get trade flowing normally.

Moffat said China’s Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Affairs had been consulting on a list of species that will be allowed to be raised for meat. Moffat said that list did include red deer and once that document was finalised it should help exports get back on track.

“It may be a few weeks before the final list is published but we think that’s a very strong signal that the confusion over venison’s status can be clarified.”

Even once the issues in China were ironed out, Moffat said 2020 would still be challenging for the sector.

He said in recent years there had been good demand and prices for New Zealand venison, but the global economic impact of Covid-19 would result in fewer people eating premium proteins at restaurants.

“We are going to be needing to rely on some new means of distribution this year as we find some new markets because, yeah, people aren’t going to have a lot of money in their pockets,” Moffat said.

Source: Republished by arrangement.

Relief for Farmers as Moving Day Confirmed to go Ahead

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced Moving Day will go ahead as planned for dairy farmers this year, but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On 1 June each year, the first day of the new dairy season, a large number of dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to commence new employment and milking contracts. Lots of dairy cows also get sent to greener pastures for winter grazing.

There had been worries from farmers that Covid-19 restrictions could disrupt Moving Day, despite the industry considering it to be an essential activity.

O’Connor, said the government had been working with sector and had found solutions that allowed Moving Day to proceed under any alert level. Industry groups would provide guidance to dairy farmers who are shifting this season, to help ensuring their moves are safe, he said.

O’Connor said the $18 billion dairy export industry would play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic recovery after Covid-19, so it was vital that Moving Day went ahead.

“Since the alert level 4 lockdown was announced, and dairy farming was deemed an essential service, the government has been committed to finding a way to enable it to proceed.”

“I want to thank all of those sector groups and farmers across the country who have worked together and shared some really solid and innovative thinking about potential solutions which will allow these crucial farm movements to go ahead safely and efficiently,” O’Connor said.

The chief executive of DairyNZ, Tim Mackle, said the announcement would be a great relief to farmers.

“Moving Day is a key time in the dairy calendar so it’s great that a solution has been secured with government which will provide peace of mind for thousands of farmers.

“It means we’ll move into the next dairy season in a way that keeps them and the public as safe as possible,” Mackle said.

Information for farmers for Moving Day:

  • Moving Day will go ahead as scheduled, under any alert level.
  • Moving Day activities will be restricted to those absolutely necessary to enable the movement of people, and, where relevant, livestock, chattels and farm equipment. This is to make sure dairy farmers and workers have safe and suitable housing and protect the welfare of their animals.
  • Under alert level 4, the dairy sector should limit activities to only those that cannot be deferred.
  • Any movement around New Zealand must ensure people’s “bubbles” are maintained.
  • Maintain up-to-date and accurate NAIT and other animal movement records.
  • Face-to-face contact should be limited and the potential spread of Covid-19 should be reduced using measures such as physical distancing and additional hygiene protocols.
  • The MPI primary sector risk assessment framework will be extended to primary sector businesses that are deemed non-essential services under current alert level 4 protocols so they can commence operating immediately (and safely) at alert level 3.

Source: Republished by arrangement.