18 new Covid-19 cases in NZ, death toll still 4

Health officials focus on risks for aged care facilities after reported deaths.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand has risen by 18 but no further deaths have occurred.

The director-general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said the number of people recovering from the infection rose by 49,  higher for the third day than the increase in infections.

All three deaths in the past three days were of older people and this had seen the Ministry of Health renew its guidelines for care of the elderly. Dr Bloomfield had written to all District Health Board chief executives on Saturday asking them to review the plans and procedures of all such facilities in their areas.

A man in his 80s who died on Friday in Wellington Hospital had been connected to a cluster from a wedding reception at Bluff.

"We know from international reports and of course our own experience here with the three deaths over the past three days that this is a group that is particularly vulnerable to a poor outcome if they do get infected with the virus," he said.

"We are prioritising a range of actions around this."  That would include assessing personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks for aged care facilities.

Of the Rosewood aged residential centre in Christchurch from which two patients have died in Burwood Hospital, Dr Bloomfield reiterated it was possible there could be more deaths because of the group's fragility and existing conditions.

The total number of confirmed and probable cases rose 18 to 1330 with 14 in hospital (down one) and the same number, 5, in intensive care. One person is listed as critical. 

A total of 471 people are confirmed as having recovered from the illness, up by 49 since yesterday.

Significant clusters remain at 13. Dr Bloomfield said an Auckland cluster identified on Saturday, connected to Spectrum Care which serves people with intellectual disabilities, involved 28 people. Five were directly related to the Spectrum Care organisation and the rest were in households in the community.

Cases from overseas travel were now 40 percent of the total, with those from known local contacts 47 percent and community transmission at 2 percent, with 11 percent under further inquiry.

On Saturday 2421 further tests were performed, for an average of 3523 over the past week and a total of 61,167 since the outbreak began.

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