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COVID-19 Update - 26 February 2020

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

The overall situation regarding COVID-19 internationally is rapidly evolving and we continue to recommend a precautionary approach.

Overnight we have seen another increase in case numbers in South Korea, Italy and Iran. Four new countries - Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Oman reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

"Our Technical Advisory Group will be meeting tomorrow morning (Thursday) to assess the evolving global situation and what actions the Ministry needs to take to respond to the changing situation and to support New Zealand's overall response to COVID-19," says the Ministry’s Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay.

"This will include looking at expanding our case definition for testing of COVID-19 cases."

Dr McElnay says she also wants to emphasise the need for people to ring ahead if they are concerned they may have COVID-19.

“It’s really important that we continue to take a precautionary approach to suspected cases.

"If you have recently returned from a country or region internationally with a recent increase in cases and have a fever, difficulty breathing or a cough it’s important you ring Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number first or ring your General Practice before making a visit and potentially putting others at risk,” says Dr McElnay.

"I also want to reinforce our message around our supply of personal protective equipment. I know there's some concern out there around the supply levels. It's really important to us that General Practices have the level of personal protective equipment that they need. That's why we're working with DHBs and PHOs to ensure the supply of PPE to General Practice."

The Ministry of Health’s assessment remains that there is a high likelihood of New Zealand getting a case of COVID-19 and we are well placed to stop the spread of the disease when a case appears.

Healthline's dedicated COVID-19 number, 0800 358 5453, is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More than 5 thousand people have now registered with Healthline as being in self-isolation and we are regularly checking on their wellbeing and welfare.

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