Woman in her 70s first person to die from coronavirus in New Zealand

New Zealand has recorded its first death due to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

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The sad news was announced at a news conference involving the Prime Minister and Ashley Bloomfield. Source: 1 NEWS

At a press conference today Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed a woman in her 70s on the West Coast, who was initially thought to have influenza, had died.

The woman died in Grey Base Hospital. The woman, who had underlying conditions already, was known to staff at the hospital.

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On Friday morning she was confirmed to have Covid-19 and her condition deteriorated over the weekend.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who also spoke at the press conference said, "it is a very sad day, it also brings home exactly why we are taking such strong measures to stop the spread of this virus."

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The victim, a woman in her 70s with chronic underlying health issues, died in Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth. Source: 1 NEWS

"Our older New Zealanders and those with underlying health issues are by far at the most risk, it is critical that we all stay at home to give our older New Zealanders as much protection as we possibly can, and our shield of protection for these people is physical distance.

"Today's death is a reminder of the fight that we have on our hands and it's a reminder of why it's so important, and everyone can play their part with the simplest of tasks, by not having contact with people outside of your bubble. Stay home, break the chain and save lives.

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

"No one wants loss of life, that's why we are all presently self-isolating, to try to prevent that as much as we can."

New Zealand is currently in the first days of a nationwide level four alert lockdown to try and stop the transmission of Covid-19. This means everyone's required to stay home unless out for exercise locally, shopping for essential items or are an essential worker travelling to work.

Dr Bloomfield talked about how Covid-19 had caused thousands of deaths around the world, particularly for older people and those with underlying preexisting health conditions.

"As a result of the initial diagnosis of influenza in this person, and the subsequent confirmation of Covid-19 a couple of days later, there was a period when staff treating the woman were using protective equipment suitable for influenza but not Covid-19."

The woman was isolated before the diagnosis of Covid-19 and personal protective gear was used, except for the recommended protective eye wear for the illness, he said.

"Once the diagnosis was confirmed staff undertook a range of measures to protect both themselves and other patients but as a precautionary approach, the DHB has placed 21 staff into isolation for the balance of 14 days since they last had contact with this person.

"All of our thought are with their [the woman's] family and loved ones at this time."

Dr Bloomfield also said there were 63 new cases of coronavirus in new Zealand, made up of 60 confirmed cases and three probable cases. The total number of cases in New Zealand is 514.

Nine people are in hospitals throughout the country, with one who is in intensive care.

There are now 56 people who have recovered.

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There are 12 coronavirus cases in hospital, three in Wellington Regional Hospital, two in Nelson Hospital, two in Whangārei Base Hospital and one each in Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Dunedin and Greymouth hospitals.