Southland DHB investigating Invercargill man's Covid-19 death at home

The Southern District Health Board is investigating how an Invercargill man known to have Covid-19 died at home earlier this year in what is New Zealand’s only death from the disease outside a hospital to date.

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Alister Peter Brookland, known as Barney, died at his Kingswell home on April 14, in his 70s – the 12th New Zealander to die from Covid-19.

At the time, Brookland was linked to the Bluff wedding cluster, which had 98 connected cases before it was closed, including the death of the groom’s father.

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Officials announced today that the death last week was due to the virus. They also announced nine new coronavirus cases. Source: 1 NEWS

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at the time while Brookland had been diagnosed with Covid-19, he was not "clinically unwell" before his death.

Bloomfield said it took several days to link the case to Covid-19 because "the circumstances around that person’s passing were such that we felt it important to get a really good understanding".

"That can help inform our knowledge base around how we manage people in the community with Covid-19, particularly if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions."

Asked whether Brookland should have been in hospital, Bloomfield said the case would be reviewed to "look at what the learnings are".

Brookland’s death was one of 66 serious adverse events reported by the SDHB for 2019-20. SDHB chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said his death was recorded as such because the death was unexpected.

“At the time of this tragic death we were still in the early stages of learning about this disease,” Millar said in a statement.

“We need to draw on, and learn from our Covid-19 response, and as the death was unexpected it was recorded as an adverse event to ensure that we know as much as we can about what happened.

“Finding out how it happened will help us understand whether it was avoidable, and whether there are things we could do in the future to avoid a similar event.”

According to the DHB’s 2019/20 adverse reactions report, the investigation report is still in draft phase.