NZ lockdown – day 20: Four more Covid-19 deaths, 17 new cases

NZ PM Jacinda Ardern
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ... a reminder of "how much worse the spread and death toll would be had we not taken the action we have taken". Image: Dom Thomas/RNZ

By RNZ News

Four more people have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry has confirmed.

Nine people have now died in the country from the coronavirus, with six of them being residents of the Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch.

It is the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a day in New Zealand.

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said all four deaths were men, and three were linked to the Rosewood cluster. Two of them were aged in their 80s, and one was in his 90s.

The fourth death was a man in his 70s in Wellington, with that death linked to overseas travel. He was admitted to hospital on March 22 and had been “quite unwell for some time”.

Today’s coronavirus media briefing. Video: RNZ

“It is a sobering reminder of what is at stake here,” Dr Bloomfield said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the four deaths were a “sad and sobering reminder” that New Zealand needed to stay the course and also a reminder of “how much worse the spread and death toll would be had we not taken the action we have taken”.

Condolences offered
Dr Bloomfield offered condolences on behalf of New Zealand.

“Whether husbands, partners, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, cousins or friends, wherever they fit in their wider whānau, we are thinking of them and of you.”

Dr Bloomfield said aged residential care settings were very vulnerable.

“We have had cases to date in six facilities around the country, this is from a total of about 650 facilities nationwide.”

He said the fact that relatively few facilities had reported infections was the result of hard work on behalf of the rest and care homes, alongside the Ministry of Health.

Every new arrival in a facility must now go into isolation for 14 days, and meals will be taken separately.

Graphic of Covid-19 daily update on 14 April, 2020.
Covid-19 daily update on 14 April 2020. Graphic: RNZ

Other Health Ministry work to help aged care facilities was also underway, including work to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).

There was also a low threshold for testing, Dr Bloomfield said.

He said there would be an announcement later in the week about funding for aged care facilities.

“I have also decided to commission a review of the aged residential care facilities where we have had cases … we think it’s a very good point in time to undertake a review,” Dr Bloomfield said.

He said the review of aged care facilities was “good practice”.

Dr Bloomfield said as someone who had lost both his parents, he absolutely understood how people who could not be with loved ones when they died would be feeling. That was why the rules around visiting relatives in hospital were being reviewed.

Seventeen new cases
Dr Bloomfield also confirmed that there had been a total of 17 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours – eight confirmed and nine probable.

The total number of cases is now 1366. There are 15 people in hospital, with three in ICU, and one is in a critical condition.

Dr Bloomfield said 1572 tests were processed yesterday. About 64,400 tests have been taken in total.

The total number of people who have recovered from the coronavirus is 628, an increase of 82 since yesterday.

He said it was clear that New Zealand was past the peak under this alert level.

“We will be more confident once we know more about each of those new cases that has been occurring in the past week.”

Further testing would provide even more confidence, Dr Bloomfield said.

He said he sent a message to DHBs today to have a low threshold for testing people with respiratory symptoms over the coming week.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.
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