THE LATEST FROM THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
MARCH 29, 2020
The Ministry of Health has reported New Zealand’s first coronavirus-related death.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, said: “Sadly, New Zealand had its first death linked to COVID-19 on the West Coast early this morning.”
The death was in a woman in her 70s who had initially been admitted four days ago with what was thought to be influenza complicated by a underlying chronic health condition.
“As we have seen around the world, Covid-19 can be a deadly disease – particularly for elderly people, and those with underlying pre-existing health issues,” Dr Bloomfield said.
“All of our thoughts are with the woman’s family and loved ones at this time.”
As a result of the initial diagnosis of influenza and then the subsequent confirmation of Covid-19 there was a period when staff treating the woman were using protective equipment suitable for influenza, but not Covid-19.
“Once the diagnosis was confirmed staff took a range of measures to protect themselves and other patients, however as a precautionary approach, the DHB has placed 21 staff in self-isolation for the balance of 14 days from their last involvement in the patient’s care,” ,” Dr Bloomfield said at this afternoon’s press briefing.
Family members visiting the woman in hospital, who do not have symptoms, will also be in monitored self-isolation for the next 14 days.
“Understandably, the family would like to take time to grieve, and they have asked for the media to respect their privacy.”
There were 63 new cases as at 9am today with 60 confirmed cases and 3 probable. He said 56 had now recovered while were in hospital. The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is now 514.
“We have nine people in hospital with Covid-19. There are three in Wellington Regional Hospital, one in Wairau Hospital (Blenheim), one in Nelson Hospital, one in Whangarei Hospital and one each in Waikato, Taranaki and Dunedin hospitals,” Dr Bloomfield said.
“We have one person in ICU on a ventilator. For privacy reasons we won’t be providing other details on these patients,” he said.
“Our laboratories are working to process and report test results as quickly as possible. Taken over a seven-day period, our average daily test number is 1786.”
Anyone who has been tested is expected to be in strict self-isolation until advised of the result of their test, he said.
“That means effectively quarantining themselves from other members of their family.
“We are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel, as well as links to confirmed cases.
“Along with a number of clusters currently under investigation we are also investigating a cluster of cases, nine to date, in the Waikato town of Matamata.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Adern said this first death from Covid-19 is “a reminder of the of the fight we have on our hands”.
“It is a very sad day and shows why we are taking such strong measures. We will continue to see more people become sick. It is critical that we stay at home.
“No-one wants loss of life…that’s why we are all self-isolating.
“Stay at home, break the chain and save lives.”
Dr Bloomfield said: “So again, a reminder that we are seeking physical separation not social separation, so be supportive, reach out to people and most importantly be kind.
“As Capital and Coast Intensive Care Specialist Dr Paul Young said today in the media: ‘…if New Zealand pulls together as a community and stays at home … you will save more lives than I will in my entire career.’ “