Four more Covid-19 deaths, 17 new cases

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Four new Covid-19 deaths have been announced in New Zealand today.

There are 17 new cases in the country today, eight confirmed and nine probable, bringing the total to 1366.

There is only one new case in the Southern DHB area today. Of the 210 cases, five are in the Clutha area.

One of the deaths was in Wellington, and three were linked to the Rosewood Rest Home cluster in Christchurch.
This brings the national death toll to nine, including six from the Rosewood cluster.

The victims were two men in their 90s and one in his 80s (in Christchurch) and one man in his 70s in Wellington.

The man in Wellington was admitted to hospital on March 22 and had been unwell for some time.

All the Rosewood residents who were transferred to Burwood Hospital had underlying conditions, Dr Bloomfield said.

There are 628 cases that have recovered, an increase of 82 from the previous day. There are now 1366 cases in New Zealand, with 15 cases in hospital; one case in Dunedin was in a critical condition.

The Southern DHB area still has the highest number of cases, ahead of Waitemata (200) and Auckland (180).

Dr Bloomfield said 1572 tests were processed yesterday. About 64,400 tests have been taken in total.

He said it was clear that New Zealand was past the peak under this alert level.

“We will be more confident once we know more about each of those new cases that has been occurring in the past week.”

Further testing would provide even more confidence, he said.

Dr Bloomfield said the Rosewood cluster would continue to be at risk, but that didn’t make the additional deaths any less sad, and it 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. 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.”

He rejected the suggestion that patients at Burwood Hospital had been essentially left to die.

He said a third of deaths each year happened in palliative care, and the residents in Burwood are receiving the same treatment as they would have in Rosewood.

In a statement this afternoon, the Ministry of Health said all the Rosewood people who died yesterday had underlying conditions to some degree, and all were confirmed cases for Covid-19.

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.

Dr Bloomfield relayed some feedback from a Rosewood family, who praised the staff there and were thankful to have Skype contact with their loved one.

“We know that aged residential care and settings are very vulnerable if we get Covid-19 in those facilities,” Bloomfield said.

Working closely with those facilities and acting quickly and preemptively was vital, he added.

There were 650 such facilities nationwide, and the relatively low number of cases in those facilities was an indication of the care and preparation measures across the sector, including “no visitor” policies before the lockdown was implemented.

Every new arrival goes into isolation for 14 days, Bloomfield said, and there are no shared meals.

PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT 

The Ministry of Health said that it and district health boards would continue supporting work by the sector to ensure facilities have access to personal protection equipment (PPE) supply lines and other support.

DHBs are looking at each facility’s plans and procedures to reduce risk to staff and residents, including assessing the use of PPE.

The Ministry said it would develop a plan for an independent review of the facility outbreaks to see if anything needed changing and what procedures could be improved.

The Ministry has provided guidance to the sector on managing staff and residents with potential Covid-19 infections and continued 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.”

The Ministry expected 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.

NZ Herald and Otago Daily Times Online