A third death from an aged care facility, and another resthome cluster keep NZ’s focus on Covid-19’s effects on the elderly.

A fifth New Zealander has died of Covid-19 – a man in his 80s who is the third person from the Rosewood rest home in Christchurch to succumb in hospital.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the latest death underlined “yet again, why we are doing what we are doing” with the national lockdown to eliminate the spread of the virus.

“Our battle with this virus is far from over,” she said, repeating that “We must keep going. We are definitely not in a position to move out of Level 4 early.”

The director-general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said the three people who had died from the Rosewood aged care facility were among those moved to Burwood Hospital. The Rosewood cluster now involved 33 people, 13 being residents and 18 staff and two connected through close contact.

“One of the new cases is a staff member of Burwood Hospital,” he said. “All staff involved in the care and transfer of these people from the rest home were using appropriate PPE [personal protective equipment]. Even with PPE, this does not automatically prevent people from becoming infected. It needs to be used appropriately, and likewise it is not a failsafe.”

The total number of confirmed and probable cases nationally rose 19 to 1349 with 15 in hospital and 4 in intensive care, with one person listed as critical. 

A total of 546 people are confirmed as having recovered from the illness, up by 75 since yesterday.

Significant clusters rose by two to 15, with one new cluster at an Auckland aged care facility affecting both patients and staff, and what Dr Bloomfield called “a small outbreak” in Christchurch.

On Sunday 1660 further tests were performed, for a total of 62,827 since the outbreak began. Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health would encourage expanded testing in some district health boards to ensure sufficient testing was undertaken to rule out possible community transmission.

Ardern had a message to those who had breached lockdown rules over Easter: “I say to those who broke the rules this weekend: ‘It could take one case amongst you to have an outbreak and have dozens affected’.

“While we all want to lift the restrictions, that decision will not be taken until April 20. We need to use the most up to date information.”

She said the Government would provide detailed guidelines for Level 3 and Level 2 on Thursday, after consulting businesses and sector groups. On Wednesday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson would set out the next steps of the Government’s plan to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy, including a “revised approach to Budget 2020”.

Updated Treasury scenarios for the effects of the economic outbreak on employment, GDP and the economy’s ability to recover would be provided on Tuesday.

On the national lockdown effort so far, Ardern quoted Robertson, the Minister of Sport. “We cannot squander a strong half-time lead… by getting over-confident.”

Tim Murphy is co-editor of Newsroom. He writes about politics, Auckland, and media. Twitter: @tmurphynz

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