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A grieving family believe their elderly relative who was in a West Auckland rest home which became a Covid-19 cluster has died from the virus.
A death notice yesterday for Eileen Hunter, 96, said the CHT St Margaret's rest home resident died "due to Covid-19" on May 24.
Hunter's family believe she contracted the deadly virus during an outbreak that infected staff and patients, but her death has not been recorded in the Ministry of Health's official Covid-19 death statistics.
The official New Zealand Covid-19 death toll is 21.
Last night the Ministry of Health confirmed her death was under investigation.
A ministry spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the last official Covid-19 death was as reported on May 6.
"The ministry is aware of this case. The cause of death is still being investigated. We expect to be able to provide an update today."
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The ministry could not provide further details due to privacy reasons.
"Mum was part of the cluster sent to Waitākere Hospital then transferred back to St Margaret's," son Patrick Hunter said.
"We are very suspicious of the diagnosis, they confirmed she didn't have Covid, that's why she was sent back to St Margaret's. She didn't improve after that and we wondered, 'What will they write on her death certificate'. That is the dispute. It's been a total shambles."
The family is waiting for the death certificate to be signed off.
A Waitematā DHB document from April 17 records Hunter as having Covid-19, the same day she and other Covid patients were transferred to Waitākere Hospital.
CHT St Margaret's recorded its first Covid-19 case on April 4 and was soon overwhelmed by an outbreak that turned deadly, claiming three lives.
Residents and staff got infected and others went into precautionary isolation. The local DHB, Waitematā, sent in nurses and healthcare workers.
St Margaret's closed to visitors from March 23. On April 7, three days after the rest home's first case, Waitematā DHB was informed of an outbreak.
St Margaret's CEO Max Robins told the Herald the Ministry of Health was handling information about the cause of death. But he had a message to the Hunter family.
"We are all very sad that Mrs Hunter has passed away. She was a much-loved resident who will be missed, and our thoughts are with her family during this tough time."
Patrick Hunter described his mother as a "beautiful woman with a heart of gold. The last time he saw her was before lockdown on 9 March. He got to hold her hand an hour after she died on Sunday morning.
"The last time I saw Mum she wasn't so sick then. They closed down St Margaret's and went into lockdown and everything spiralled out of control - staff and patients were getting infected. There is so much going on and we really don't know the story particularly surrounding the Covid-type situation. That is being worked through with the doctors at the moment.
"Mum was sharp as a tack and had a great sense of humour. She still recognised everyone and could tell you off. Everyone loved and adored her," Hunter said.
His mother's funeral service is tomorrow at 11am at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Te Atatū Peninsula.