New Zealand has 18 new coronavirus cases today, though grave fears remain for elderly residents at a rest home where there has been an outbreak.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters there are a total of 1330 cases. No more deaths have been reported since yesterday; the death toll remains at four.

The source of the Covid-19 infection at the Rosewood rest home in Christchurch was still being investigated.

There could be more deaths in the coming days from that rest home, Bloomfield said.


"We may well see further deaths over the coming days, I'll just be honest with you about that."

Bloomfield clarified that a man in his 80s, whose death in Wellington Hospital was announced yesterday, was linked to the Bluff wedding cluster. More than 80 cases have been linked to that event.

Bloomfield said 18 new cases confirmed today was an encouragingly low number. He hoped the downward trend would continue over the next few days as testing ramped back up.

Nationwide, 14 people remain in hospital, five of those are in intensive care units, one in a critical condition.

Bloomfield defended the lack of public information released about a cluster relating to an Auckland party with 35 cases, saying it was a "private event" which was "well-bounded" and everyone involved had been contacted.

In terms of lockdown compliance, Bloomfield said there had been 847 breaches and 109 prosecutions.

Three rest home clusters

There are three "significant" clusters in rest homes - two in Christchurch and one in Waikato.

The elderly were vulnerable to a particularly poor outcome from the virus, Bloomfield said.

The Rosewood rest home in Christchurch.
The Rosewood rest home in Christchurch.

Priority work was happening in this area to protect vulnerable people.

The Rosewood rest home residents who had been moved to Burwood Hospital were not being treated as hospitalisations because their treatment was what it would be in their dementia unit at the aged-care facility, he said.

Guidance on measures that aged-care facilities should have in place were updated yesterday, Bloomfield said.

Asked about considering routine testing on people moving into aged residential care, Bloomfield said all residents were required to go into self-isolation and testing was just "one part" of keeping people safe.

A cluster identified at a Spectrum facility caring for the intellectually disabled now had 28 cases.

The infection originated in the community and then spread to Spectrum Care. Five cases are directly related to the care facility, and the other cases are in households.


On the 13 New Zealanders returning to the country today after being on a cruise ship off Uruguay, Bloomfield said none was unwell enough to receive hospital care and they would go into quarantine after being tested.

Discussing a supermarket worker in Flaxmere who had tested positive, and lives in a house with nine other people, Bloomfield said it was "very clear" he wasn't infected at work and the origin of the infection was from Queenstown.

Bloomfield said health officials were looking at Google and Apple's contact tracing work but it wouldn't be available until mid-May and they were looking at bringing in another app for New Zealand before then.

Calls to Healthline now answered within '10 seconds'

A report from Healthline showed many people had serious symptoms by the time they called and Bloomfield urged anyone who was unwell to seek care without delay.

They could do this by calling their GP or Healthline, he said.

Calls to Healthline were now being answered within 10 seconds.


Bloomfield urged people to reach out "across the generations" this Easter Sunday to keep whānau connected.

Yesterday, 2421 tests were processed on a "quieter" day, likely because it was Easter weekend.

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Twenty-nine new cases were reported yesterday, bringing the total infected to 1312, with 422 people recovered.

Fifteen people were in hospital, including five in intensive care. One was in a critical condition.

That brought the total infected to 1312, and 422 people recovered.


Two of the four deaths have been residents from the Rosewood rest home, in Christchurch, which has a cluster of 30 cases comprising of residents and staff.

One of the deaths was man in his 70s, who died at the weekend. A 90-year-old woman was reported as New Zealand's second fatality on Friday.

Both were among a group of 20 residents with dementia who'd been transferred to Burwood Hospital.


Director of public health Caroline McElnay said yesterday the vulnerabilities of the people in Rosewood rest home group meant further deaths or serious illnesses couldn't be ruled out.

"What we're seeing sadly in New Zealand, but also what we have seen overseas, is the impact Covid-19 has on that particularly frail and vulnerable group."


The other confirmed death yesterday was a Wellington man in his 80s.

New Zealand's first Covid-19 death was Anne Guenole, 73, who died on March 29 after testing positive.

The Covid-19 global death toll has risen to more than 106,000 and 1.7 million infected.

US coronavirus deaths surpassed 20,000 overnight, the highest reported number in the world, although there are signs the pandemic may be nearing a peak. Italy has the second most reported deaths at 19,468 and Spain is third with 16,353.

The World Health Organisation chief cautioned countries against lifting lockdown measures too early.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been a "welcome slowing" of the epidemic in some European countries and the WHO was working with governments to form strategies for easing lockdowns.


"Lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence," he said. "The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly."

The Government will decide on April 20 whether New Zealand will be lifted out of lockdown on or about April 23.