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'It is a very sad day' - Jacinda Ardern reacts to New Zealand's first Covid-19 fatality

The Prime Minister has reiterated the need for kindness as New Zealand's first fatality from the Covid-19 coronavirus was confirmed today. 

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The Prime Minister said everyone’s thoughts are with the woman’s family. Source: 1 NEWS

"It is a very sad day, and it also brings home exactly why we are taking such strong measure to stop the spread of this virus," Jacinda Ardern said. 

"This was devastating news for us to receive. No one wants loss of life and that is why we are all self-isolating."

Coronavirus update: New Zealand cases region-by-region for March 29

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, who was supposed to be having the weekend off, held the All of Government Response Team briefing alongside Ms Arden in Wellington today.

"Sadly, New Zealand has had its first death linked to Covid-19 in the West Coast this morning," Dr Bloomfield said. 

Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS

"A women in her 70s who had been initially admitted for what was thought to be influenza complicated by an underlying health condition."

Today saw a rise in cases of 63, bringing New Zealand's total number of Covid-19 infections to 514. Fifty-three people overall have recovered from Covid-19 in New Zealand. 

Yesterday, there were 12 people in hospitals around the country, including one in Greymouth Hospital. Today, there are now nine in hospital. 

"I know the thoughts of everyone in the country are with the family of this person," Ms Ardern said. 

"This will be an enormously difficult time for them."

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The region has only three confirmed cases, but that's little comfort after a woman in her 70s died in Grey Base Hospital. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern asked for "kindness and support" for people who had or have Covid-19, after reports of bullying. 

"There are 514 New Zealanders who deserve our support, just as we would for anyone who is sick and in need."

The fatality comes on the fourth day of New Zealand's level four lockdown. 

Last Wednesday, the Government brought in measures to screen every New Zealander returning into the country, with those with symptoms or unable to immediately self-isolate taken to an approved facility.

Ms Ardern said there had been a 30 per cent drop in expected arrivals of New Zealanders, due to either changing their mind on returning or transit routes no longer being available. 

As at March 25, they were expecting up to 10,000 returning New Zealanders until the end of March, and that had been factored into the border measures. 

Ms Ardern said yesterday 840 people had returned, largely from Australia and the Pacific, with about 300 expected to arrive today.

"These numbers are falling dramatically."

On enforcement of the Alert Level 4 rules, Ms Ardern said the public could feel “rightly very frustrated” with those flouting the restrictions.

She reiterated the police’s power to arrest and detain "if need be".

Ms Ardern said people can now report Level 4 restriction breaches online.

Recent modelling projected that without intervention, such as the current lockdown restrictions, there would be 80,000 deaths in New Zealand due to Covid-19. 

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That's the stark warning from researchers at Auckland University, who're using statistical modelling to plot our Covid-19 response. Source: 1 NEWS

"The 80,000 figure is the worst case scenario," Professor Shaun Hendy said. "It’s still a possibility we could have tens of thousands of deaths, but given the steps the Government has taken, that has reduced the possibility of that happening all the time."

Instead, New Zealand could see "just a handful of deaths".

"We have a couple hundred cases in New Zealand and we know from overseas that means there will likely be some deaths," Professor Hendy said.