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By RNZ News

New Zealand has eight new cases of Covid-19, all related to overseas travel, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

It brings the total of confirmed cases in New Zealand to 20, after the announcement of a $12.1 billion economic and health sector rescue package.

Speaking at the latest media conference, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were four new cases in Auckland, one in Christchurch, two in Waikato and one in Invercargill.

READ MORE: Coronavirus global latest updates – Italy death toll surges past 2500
RNZ Covid-19 updates

Some of the new cases have come from Europe, Australia and the US.

He said details for each of these cases, including flight information, would be revealed on the Ministry of Health website “in the near future”.

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“We expected more cases and it is most important that we identify, that we test and isolate cases and close contacts to ensure that we prevent further community spread.”

He said the new cases have been in self-isolation and aware of the symptoms. He commended them for doing the right thing.

Rescue package welcomed
Business and community leaders welcomed yesterday’s $12.1 billion government rescue package in response to the growing economic crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

How the New Zealand Herald covered the $12.1 billion economic and health rescue package today. Image: PMC screenshot

Economic commentator Shamubeel Eaqub wrote in an article for RNZ News:

“The government announced a gargantuan Covid-19 response package. It is huge in scale and entirely suited to the challenge faced by our country.

“The response is world-leading.

“Packages announced by other countries have been much smaller, at 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent of GDP. This package is worth 4 percent of GDP.

“Even better, much of it front-loaded, meaning we will see a concentrated boost to the economy over coming months.

“The May Budget will provide even more stimulus to aid society and economy back to normalcy.”

Logan Park School closed
Meanwhile, about 150 students at Logan Park School which was initially closed for 48 hours last night will be tested over the next 24 hours.

Test results for these close contacts will not be available until Friday, and the school will stay closed until further notice.

Secretary of Education Iona Holsted said there was a plan in place for Logan Park High, and the Health Ministry was planning for temporary closures of schools, but not long-term closures.

Dr Bloomfield said police had conducted some compliance checks on travellers who have arrived since the self-isolation policy came into effect. He said they had made contact with 41 individuals yesterday and they were following up with three more today.

The influenza vaccination programme will begin early this year, with a 30 percent increase in tests, Dr Bloomfield said.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Michael Baker this morning called for New Zealand to close all schools until testing could confirm there was no widespread community transmission.

The government is spending an additional $5 million on increasing testing capacity for the Covid-19 coronavirus as part of its $500m spend to tackle the impact of the virus on the health system.

Australian travel ban
Australian Prime Minister earlier announced a level-4 travel ban for the first time in that country’s history, saying no Australians should travel abroad and he has banned non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also called on New Zealanders travelling overseas to return home, and advised against all non-essential travel.

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