Four Additional Deaths Linked To COVID-19, 17 New Cases
The Ministry of Health is extremely sad to report four additional deaths linked to COVID-19 infection.
One death has occurred in Wellington and there have been three additional deaths from the Rosewood cluster in Christchurch.
This brings the total of deaths in New Zealand to 9, six of which involve Rosewood residents being cared for at Burwood. The deaths we are announcing today are:
· a man in his 90s at Burwood
· a man in his 80s at Burwood
· a man in his 90s at Burwood
· a man in his 70s in Wellington – associated with overseas travel
The Ministry has previously signalled the underlying vulnerabilities of the Rosewood group and that this group would continue to be at risk. That does not make today’s news any less sad.
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the largest number of deaths reported on any one day in New Zealand is a sobering reminder of what is at stake with COVID-19.
“I want to acknowledge all these families and offer New Zealand’s sympathy and support,” says Dr Bloomfield. “Whether husbands, partners, fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, cousins or friends – wherever they fit in their wider whanau, we are thinking of them and of you.”
In terms of case details which are appropriate to release, the Ministry can say that all the Rosewood individuals who died yesterday had underlying conditions to some degree, and all were confirmed cases for COVID-19.
The man in Wellington was admitted to hospital on 22 March and has been unwell for some time. Capital & Coast DHB and its staff have been working closely with the man and his family and will continue to offer the family support.
As the Ministry has said previously, the Rosewood group was transferred from a high level psychogeriatric (or dementia) unit. The care they have been receiving is consistent with the high level of psychogeriatric care they would have been provided at the facility and includes, where appropriate, end of life/palliative. Medical oversight at Burwood is from a GP.
The Director-General today conveyed feedback from families of Rosewood residents at Burwood which speaks highly of the nursing staff there.
“They are just amazing, doing an incredible job. The communication with us was superb – we had lots of calls, including facetime calls with dad. We’re so grateful.”
“We couldn’t speak more highly of the staff and care dad received, both at Burwood and at Rosewood. They skyped with dad and the nurse caring for him arranged for him to see a video the family had put together, and there were lots of phone calls.”
Aged Residential Care
We know residents of New Zealand aged residential care facilities make up some of our most vulnerable communities, particularly if COVID-19 is able to take hold.
It’s been crucial for the Ministry to work closely with the New Zealand Aged Care Association, Care Association New Zealand, district health boards and facilities around the country from early on in the evolution of the pandemic.
We worked with the sector to take specific actions such as stopping family visits and non-essential visits at facilities ahead of the country moving to Alert Level 4. Every new arrival at a facility must also now go into isolation for 14 days.
There are more than 650 aged care facilities nationwide, and there has been excellent care and preparation across the sector. This is highlighted by the fact that in New Zealand, relatively few facilities are affected compared to overseas.
The Ministry and DHBs will continue supporting work by the sector to ensure facilities have access to PPE supply lines and other support.
DHBs are currently looking at each facility's plans and procedures to reduce risk to staff and residents, including assessing the use of PPE.
The Ministry will also develop a plan for an independent review of the facility outbreaks so we can understand what can change and what procedures can be improved.
The Ministry has provided guidance to the sector on managing staff and residents with potential COVID-19 infections and we continue to update this advice regularly.
We need to stay ahead of COVID-19 and we must make sure this doesn't take hold of our older population .
Today our total number of COVID-19 cases has increased by 17, made up of 8 new confirmed cases and 9 new probable cases.
There are now 628 reported cases of COVID-19 infection which we can confirm have recovered – an increase of 82 on yesterday. Recovered cases now firmly dominate the number of new cases.
The new combined total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 1366.Today there are 15 people in hospital. The total includes three people in ICU – one each in Middlemore, Dunedin and North Shore hospitals. One of these ICU patients – in Dunedin – remains in a critical condition.
For those cases we have information on, 48% involve contact with a confirmed case within New Zealand including those in known clusters, 39% have a link with overseas travel and community transmission accounts for 2%. 11% continue under investigation.
1572 tests were processed yesterday, with a rolling 7-day average of 3039 and total tests to date of 64,399. As we said yesterday, we anticipated a drop off in testing over the Easter holiday period. Partly this is due to the effect of public holidays, and also with the measures in place around Alert Level 4, we would expect fewer people to be presenting with respiratory issues.
We will be ramping up testing again this week and we’re well placed to do more testing across the country.
We expect to receive approximately 10 million items this week of which 9 million are procedure masks or equivalent - next week we expect to receive 18 million items.
The national ordering process for DHBs has been stood up today to initially distribute masks with other PPE products being added moving forward. DHBs will be placing the first lot of orders under this new system tomorrow morning with delivery by the end of the week. Health and disability service providers can expect to receive stock by early next week.