More residents will be moved out of a Christchurch rest home at the centre of a coronavirus cluster that's claimed the life of a 90-year-old - with the total number of cases rocketing to 28.

Health authorities announced today that a woman who lived at Rosewood Resthome and Hospital at Woodham Rd in Linwood had died in Burwood Hospital, after earlier contracting the virus. She had underlying health conditions.

The woman's family were unable to visit her after she and 19 other residents were transferred to Burwood on Monday to isolate together, to try stop the virus spreading to those in other wings of the rest home.

The first Rosewood case was confirmed on April 3. Three days later there were at least 12. The total was listed as 21 this morning, but that has now been updated to 28.

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This is comprised of 15 staff (5 confirmed and 10 probable) and 13 residents (6 confirmed, 7 probable).

Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates has now authorised more residents to move out, after failing to find replacement workers for the large number of staff now in self-isolation.

Twenty residents will move to other aged care facilities providing hospital-level care over the next week.

"Once this group of 20 has been relocated, 24 residents will remain at Rosewood. We are confident we'll have sufficient staff to care for these remaining residents until such time that some of the original Rosewood staff will be out of their isolation period and cleared to return to work.

"Families have been contacted and are central to our decision-making about where residents are moved to. Thankfully, there are a number of rest homes who have hospital-level rooms available. We expect all residents to be safely relocated to their new homes by the end of next week.

"We know this is disruptive for both residents and their whānau, but under the present circumstances it is the safest option while we're unable to find appropriate staff to work at Rosewood to provide care to this group of vulnerable older people."

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay announced the 90-year-old's death today. Hospital staff did all they could to provide her comfort before her death yesterday, which is New Zealand's second coronavirus-related fatality. The woman had a number of age-related health conditions, and recently tested positive for Covid-19.

McElnay couldn't say how many people at the rest home had been tested but said investigations were under way to find out how the outbreak started.

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On the Ministry of Health website the cluster's origin is defined as "overseas exposure", and Canterbury DHB has said it is highly likely a staff member brought the virus into the unit, given strict visiting restrictions under the level 4 nationwide lockdown.

Some people displaying symptoms at the rest home hadn't been tested because of the distress it would cause them, the ministry said, but they were being treated as probable cases.

The privately owned facility has two specialised dementia care units and had a total of 64 residents. Of that group, 19 remain at Burwood Hospital, 20 will be moved to other rest homes, and 24 will stay at the facility.

On Monday, Meates appointed an acting manager for the rest home, saying this was because the facility manager is in self-isolation, as are other staff.

Clusters have increasingly become the centre of the New Zealand coronavirus epidemic, overtaking overseas transmission as the main source of the virus. The Ministry of Health defines a cluster as a group of Covid-19 cases linked because those infected were in the same place.