Rest homes have imposed a blanket rule requiring all new residents be tested for Covid-19 before admission, and if positive they won't be admitted.

The stark new reality is a reminder of the global pandemic's grip on the world and the elderly and those in communal living are particularly at risk of the spread of the virus.

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New Zealand Aged Care Association has put the new rule in place after the Government relaxed the case definition for testing to include high-risk groups including those living in rest homes.

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Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said rest homes until now had been accepting new admissions without testing but placing them in isolation for 14 days.

"Now, every admission will need to be tested first. If they test negative, the resident will be admitted but will be put into isolation for 14 days.

"Our decision is in line with the call from the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, for more testing of vulnerable populations, which includes older New Zealanders.

"Covid-19 is known to afflict older people more than any other cohort.

Elderly residents moving into a rest home now must undergo a Covid-19 test first and if positive they will not be admitted. Photo / File
Elderly residents moving into a rest home now must undergo a Covid-19 test first and if positive they will not be admitted. Photo / File

"We have seen several cases with our residents already, along with some staff. And given the ongoing increase in cases across New Zealand, we will likely see further cases amongst our people."

Bloomfield announced today there were 950 probably and confirmed cases now in New Zealand.

There are more than one million cases around the world and have been almost 59,000 deaths.

"Our members' top priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff and residents and testing new residents prior to admission is an important part of the wider protocols they have in place," Wallace said.

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The Ministry of Health had been advised of the new policy.

A Waikato rest home is among the group of clusters around the country where more than 10 cases of Covid-19 have been reported.

Atawhai Assisi Rest Home and Hospital in Matangi on the outskirts of Hamilton has 14 cases of Covid-19 - at least one resident and the rest staff.

The male resident caught the virus off his daughter when she visited from Australia before the lockdown.

He had shown no symptoms but tested positive after the woman, a nurse, returned home and was tested.

A quarter of the rest home's staff went into isolation and the number with the disease has remained steady for the past few days.

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Meanwhile, the families of any elderly rest home residents receiving palliative care are eligible to visit their loved ones, according to the Ministry of Health.

On March 27, all family visits to facilities ceased as part of the lockdown.

However, where residents are receiving palliative care, visits will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Palliative care is not necessarily end-of-life care but is any treatment that is not designed to cure a person.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website