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2 deaths, 8 new cases of Covid-19

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Covid-19 update from Ministry of Health

From Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay

April 17, 2020

Today New Zealand’s total number of Covid-19 cases has increased by 8, made up of 2 new confirmed cases and 6 new probable cases – all linked to confirmed cases or outbreaks.

The new combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1409.

Sadly, there are two further deaths to report today.

One death occurred in Waikato Hospital – that person was a man in his 90s who died yesterday. He had been living at home with family, and was admitted to hospital on Saturday night very unwell. The man had a connection to the Matamata cluster. While the man’s family was not with him when he passed away, staff at Waikato Hospital provided support to the man and his family to care for him in his final days.

The second death is a woman in her 80s who died at Burwood Hospital yesterday. She was part of the group of 20 Rosewood residents who were transferred to Burwood on April 6. The woman had an underlying health condition. Her family was also not able to be with her, but a staff member at Burwood Hospital was with the woman when she passed away.

Sadly there have now been seven deaths from the group of Rosewood residents who were moved to Burwood – there are five other cases who remain stable at present, but this is a group of frail, elderly people.

This brings the total number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in New Zealand to 11.

There are now 816 reported cases of Covid-19 who have recovered – an increase of 46 on yesterday.

Today there are 14 people in hospital with Covid-19. The total includes 3 people in ICU – one each in Middlemore, Dunedin, and North Shore hospitals.

Two of these ICU patients – in Dunedin and North Shore – are in a critical condition.

There are still 16 significant clusters – no change from yesterday.  15 more cases have been connected to clusters.

A total 4241 tests were processed yesterday, with a rolling seven-day average of 2674 and total tests tof o date of 74,401.

New Zealand is increasing the amount of testing and expanding the pool of those being tested for Covid-19 to include anyone with respiratory symptoms.

We are encouraging anyone who displays Covid-19 symptoms to get tested, and we are encouraging the DHBs to increase their testing.

The level of community transmission in New Zealand is currently low and most of the cases that have been diagnosed with Covid-19 have links to overseas travel or close contacts of other cases. 

DHBs, including in Queenstown, Waikato and Canterbury, are arranging for teams to go out into their communities including through mobile testing clinics. They are undertaking targeted testing to provide further information on community transmission in these regions.

Yesterday at Pak’n’Save in Queenstown 343 asymptomatic supermarket workers and customers were tested for Covid-19. About half of those tests have already been processed and all are negative to date. Today, a similar approach will be taken in Canterbury where another 250 asymptomatic people will be tested. Waikato DHB is also today testing asymptomatic people in five towns – in Otorohanga, Hamilton, Matamata, Cambridge and Te Awamutu.

This additional testing and targeted testing will add to the total pool of tests done, provide us with increased confidence in our data, and our overall picture of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

The Health Research Council has today announced funding for researchers from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand to lead three internationally significant trials in the fight against Covid-19.

The clinical trials will provide hospitals and patients with access to the most promising Covid-19 treatments and the latest evidence on which treatments are most effective.

The trials will assess potential therapeutic agents to fight Covid-19, including hydroxychloroquine, which is one of a number of drugs gaining attention as a potential treatment for the virus.

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