UPDATE FROM THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health
April 11, 2020
The Ministry of Health is saddened to report two further deaths linked to Covid-19.
The families of both people will be in the country’s thoughts at this very difficult time and we extend our sympathy to them. All families need time to grieve, and we ask that their privacy continues to be respected.
New Zealand now has four deaths associated with Covid-19. As we have said previously, this can be a very serious disease – particularly for elderly people, and also for those with underlying health conditions.
Both deaths being reported today have occurred in older individuals with underlying health conditions. Both can also be linked to existing Covid-19 clusters.
The first individual is a man in his 80s who died at Wellington Public Hospital yesterday.
This gentleman had a link to an established cluster. To allow his family more time to grieve, we will not be identifying that cluster today.
The man first became unwell on March 26, was admitted to Wellington Hospital on March 28 and has been under care there ever since.
We are confident his close contacts have been traced and that there is no additional risk posed by this very sad death.
The second individual is a man in his 70s who died at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch yesterday.
As with the death we reported on yesterday, this gentleman was one of a group of 20 residents transferred from Rosewood Rest Home & Hospital to Burwood as part of the Canterbury District Health Board’s cluster management process.
These residents were relocated to a ward at Burwood to allow them to be managed in one location but in isolation from each other. This gentleman was tested on 9 April and subsequently returned a positive result for Covid-19.
Due to the underlying vulnerabilities of this group, we cannot rule out further serious illness or deaths within it.
We acknowledge the anxiety New Zealanders may be feeling about today’s news, both in the wider community and also for family and whanau grieving over these sad deaths.
Because of the current Alert Level 4, we also know it can be difficult for families to feel they are part of their loved ones’ final hours.
On behalf of all New Zealanders, the Ministry wants to sincerely thank front-line health staff who are also providing patients with comfort and support during these times.
Again, today’s news reinforces the importance of our move to Alert Level Four, and the measures we are all taking to limit spread, break the chain of transmission and prevent deaths.
We want you to know that our health system will continue to do everything it can to support the fight against Covid-19.
Today there are 29 new cases of Covid-19 to report – made up of 20 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 9 new probable cases.
There have been two additional deaths to report, for a total of 4.
There are now 422 reported cases of Covid-19 which we can confirm have recovered – an increase of 49 on yesterday.
We continue to report more people recovered than new combined cases.
The combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1312.
Today there are 15 people in hospital, not inclusive of the Burwood group. That total includes five in ICU – one each in Wellington, Middlemore, Hawke’s Bay, Dunedin and North Shore. One of these ICU patients – in Dunedin – is in a critical condition.
For those cases we have information on, we are still seeing a clear but declining link to overseas travel (40 per cent) and ongoing links to confirmed cases within New Zealand (46 per cent) including those in clusters we already know about and community transmission (2 per cent). We are still investigating 11 per cent of cases.
In terms of testing, yesterday we carried out 3061 tests, with a rolling 7 day average of 3619 and total tests to date of 58,746.
The Ministry has a considerable focus on clusters, and there is also significant public interest in our management of them.
Three of the four deaths to date are linked to clusters.
There are 13 significant clusters as of today. Our three largest clusters remain: Matamata (70); Bluff (85); and Marist College (85). The new cluster is an aged residential care facility in Christchurch, the George Manning.
Additionally, two of our larger Auckland clusters which we have not previously named we can now provide some additional information about.
The first is an outbreak in the community which has subsequently resulted in cases at a Spectrum facility providing day care to individuals with an intellectually disability.
The second was linked to a private party to celebrate an event in Auckland. There have been 35 cases linked to this cluster.