New Zealand has another coronavirus-related death, a man in his 60s from the Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch.

The man died in its hospital wing - the second to do so.

He is the 10th person from Rosewood to die.

The country has five new Covid-19 cases today, with two confirmed and three probable.


Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay gave today's briefing on the Covid-19 crisis.

McElnay said the latest death once again illustrated the impact of the disease. She said the man had existing comorbidities so, while he was in his 60s, he did have serious underlying health conditions.

"This illustrates once again the impact this disease can have on vulnerable people. Every person we lose to Covid-19 is a tragedy with family and friends left without a loved one."

McElnay wasn't able to say if the man had family with him when he passed away. Family visiting loved ones in hospitals for compassionate reasons would need permission to do so, she said.

Robertson said each person who died was someone who was loved and said thoughts were with their families who were grieving in the "most difficult" of circumstances.

The Covid-19 death toll is at 17.

Regarding the new cases, McElnay said one was linked to overseas travel, three to existing clusters and one case was under investigation.

In total, 1095 people have recovered from Covid-19 in New Zealand. There are eight people in hospital, with one in ICU in Middlemore


There were 6961 tests yesterday - a new daily record - and 108,238 in total have now been processed.

The Ministry of Health is developing a more targeted testing plan to give it a better insight into Covid-19 across the country, McElnay said.

Asked whether that would include testing in aged care facilities, McElnay said there was a danger in testing all incoming residents because that was just a snapshot in time. Despite testing negative, people could still be incubating the disease.

The source of the infection at Rosewood is still under investigation.

Covid 19 coronavirus: 'They're pretty crushed': Union fights for supermarket workers after 10% bonus gets chopped
Covid-19 Coronavirus: What's New Zealand's long-term plan for a Covid-19 vaccine?
Covid 19 coronavirus: Two new deaths, Ashley Bloomfield apologises to family
Covid 19 coronavirus: Africa's 43% jump in virus cases in 1 week worries experts

Robertson said ongoing vigilance at level 4 and 3 was vital.

He said "one thing to make very clear" was level 3 was still a very restrictive environment.

Robertson didn't have advice on whether a State of Emergency would continue at alert level 2.

Kiwis stuck overseas

MFaT was continuing to work hard to bring home Kiwis stuck overseas.

Specifically on Kiwis stuck in Cambodia and Laos, which have closed their land borders, Robertson said they'd always said there would be pockets it would be difficult to repatriate from.

It was very early days in relation to looking at a trans-Tasman bubble but the good news was both countries were doing well, said Robertson.

"At some point in the future it may be possible but I don't think people should get ahead of themselves."

The priority was ensuring the integrity of our border.

In terms of keeping people safe, it was pointed out that as people go into quarantine or managed self-isolation, they're kept in different groups and there's no mixing.

They're isolated for 14 days and tested if symptomatic. They're not tested upon release, McElnay said.

On low positivity tests in the Bay of Plenty where there are iwi roadblocks, Robertson said they may be helping.

The economic plan

The Government's economic plan to respond and recover from Covid-19 came in three waves, he said.

The first has already been under way, fighting the virus and cushioning the economic impact.

Various groups had worked hard to fight for their industries, he said.

This has been a true New Zealand effort to fight the once in a century virus, he said.

Wave two of the economic plan would get under way under alert level 3, with more industries and businesses opening up, he said.

Wave three was ensuring we have a robust and regenerating economy and will look at productivity, sustainability and inequality.

On potential mortgage defaults, Robertson said the mortgage deferral scheme was in place and they were trying to limit unemployment as much as possible.

They weren't looking at mortgage holders specifically, but at New Zealand as a whole, he said.

On getting banks to loosen their lending criteria, Robertson said if you were a customer and didn't get the answer you were looking for, you should go back. The guaranteed loan scheme was now fully operational and the Government was continuing to work with banks.

Robertson said it was too early to talk about helicopter payments as the current economic response was to deal with "the here and now".

Robertson said the Jobseeker numbers were smaller than in other countries.

But he said we wouldn't understand the full impact of Covid on unemployment until some months in the future.

On increasing teachers' workloads through cleaning and other support under alert level 3, Robertson said they recognised it would be different and schools should have staff to take on cleaning.

He asked everyone give teachers and principals some time to adjust to the restrictions.

Wage subsidy audits

Speaking about wage subsidy audits, Robertson said they needed to protect the integrity of the scheme.

"It is great to see these 99 per cent of business owners doing right by their employees."

Robertson and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced the Government was eyeing up criminal proceedings for businesses found to be abusing the scheme.

Robertson said every business applying for the scheme had to declare, then stand by, the fact their income had been reduced 30 per cent.

He warned there would be a "broad sweep" across businesses which applied.

He encouraged any business which had come to realise their circumstances meant their incomes weren't as badly hit as expected, they should pay it back.

Robertson said low income New Zealanders were struggling under Covid-19 and there were various support schemes in place to help them.

On the Government relying on charities to take on this burden, Robertson said they recognised that and would continue to work with them.

On increasing welfare support, he said the Government would continue to work to raise the incomes of New Zealand's lowest earners.

He encouraged New Zealanders to buy local and support small businesses and suppliers because that would have a good impact.

The Government would have to re-double its efforts to address inequality and poverty as it was usually people on the lowest incomes were the hardest hit by economic crises, he said.


On Sport, detailed guidance would be released this afternoon about what sport and recreation activity could happen under alert level 3.

More recreation activities were now possible, including fishing from the shore, hunting under restrictions and activities like tennis.

More information is on the Sport NZ website, he said.

Robertson said he knew netball and rugby were working on how they could resume safely.

He said playing tennis would come with restrictions - only in your bubble, don't congregate, use your own equipment, club houses won't be open.

Subscribe to Premium

Earlier today

Robertson and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni earlier today announced a dedicated investigations team to look into complaints about businesses taking advantage of the wage subsidy scheme.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has so far undertaken more than 2400 random and targeted audits of businesses.

Almost 1300 applicants have voluntarily advises they would pay back the subsidy – totaling $16.2 million, according to MSD figures.

And 56 applications being asked to refund either all or part of the subsidy.

They are required to pay back $1.25 million – MSD is now looking into criminal prosecutions.