New Zealand's Chief Coroner says she hopes the country doesn't record a single death from Covid-19 but should the worst happen the Coroners Court is prepared.

Chief Coroner is Judge Deborah Marshall said any death in New Zealand during the global coronavirus pandemic that is known to be, or suspected most likely to be, from Covid-19 will generally not need to be reported to a coroner.

"This is because the death is from a natural cause and the probable cause of death is known," she explained.

"Doctors are encouraged to issue a cause of death certificate in these cases. If a cause of death is not known the case will be reportable to a coroner."


A Covid-19 death, however, will be reportable to a coroner if the death is of someone in official custody or care, Judge Marshall said.

"Coronial work will largely continue as normal in the coming weeks. Over 90 per cent of the work in the Coroners Court is done in chambers. That is, there is no public court hearing. This includes written findings. This work will continue as normal," she said.

"If you are involved in an upcoming inquest, please get in touch with your case manager to discuss any concerns you may have."

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Last night, Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann said proceedings will not take place this week in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Employment Court, Environment Court (with the exception of one proceeding), Māori Land Court, Waitangi Tribunal and Coroners Court.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that New Zealand is now at level 3 on the Covid-19 alert system with level 4 - the highest alert - to follow at 11.59pm on Wednesday.

Schools, childcare centres and universities will be closed, while all non-essential businesses or services must also shut by the deadline. Kiwis should stay at home unless visiting an essential service. Ardern said the strict measures will save tens of thousands of Kiwi lives.