Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand's first Covid-19 linked death underpins why it is so important for older New Zealanders to obey health official advice.

Her strong message for those over 70 flouting the lockdown restriction rules was: "Stay home".

"We as a country want to do everything we can to protect you; but we can only do that if you stay at home."

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Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed a woman in her 70s was the first New Zealander to die as a result of Covid-19.


She was at Greymouth Hospital on the West Coast and had been diagnosed with the disease on Friday.

Bloomfield said she was well known to hospital staff and had underlying health conditions.

Ardern said news of the death was "devastating", but it was "a reminder of the fight we have on our hands" and why the country was in level four lockdown.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand is now 514. Nine are in hospital and two in intensive care.

"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," Ardern said.

"Left unchecked, it runs the risk of taking the lives of many more people."

People over 70 – who are "by far at the most risk" of dying as a result of Covid-19, and Ardern said she worried about older New Zealanders who tended to avoid "putting anyone out" so might not ask for the help they need.

She was worried by reports that some older Kiwis were not listening to official advice and were ignoring their children's pleas to stay inside.


"In lieu of anyone out there who is over 70 or has underlying health conditions who is not listening to their children, please listen to me: You must stay at home."

"It's devastating to lose anyone; it's devastating to lose a parent. I don't want that to happen to your children, please stay at home."

She implored people to contact older New Zealanders during this "unprecedented time" through text, phone call or by video chat.

Bloomfield confirmed 63 new cases of Covid-19 today, down on yesterday's 83, and even further down on Friday's 85.

But Ardern cautioned against reading too much into those numbers and said the Government was not willing to draw any conclusions at this stage.

"We must remember that there is a considerable lag time in any of our results."


She said on Friday she was expecting to see the number of new cases continue to rise until April 6.

"We all need to be vigilant, no one can be complacent and no one is willing to draw any conclusions yet," Ardern said. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website