A Christchurch retirement village has gone into lockdown after residents began displaying symptoms of a respiratory illness.

The Village Palms Retirement Community in Shirley advised of the lockdown in a letter to family members today.

"We currently have several residents on our first-floor care unit who are displaying symptoms of a respiratory illness," the letter says.

The Village Palms Retirement Community in Shirley advised of the lockdown in a letter to family members today. Photo / Supplied
The Village Palms Retirement Community in Shirley advised of the lockdown in a letter to family members today. Photo / Supplied

"We have forwarded swabs to the Public Health Department to test for Covid-19."

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Regional manager John Amesbury said: "We have eight residents experiencing normal flu-like symptoms.

"We've implemented the normal precautions - it's normal procedure to alert DHB and public health if more than three residents show signs of respiratory illness, or any illness really. It would be the same for gastro.

"There's nothing to suggest it's anything other than the normal flu."

The Ministry of Health directed queries to the Canterbury District Health Board.

A Canterbury DHB spokesman said the ill residents were being tested as a precaution, after it was informed of "a number of cases of respiratory illness" in the resthome.

"The facility also contacted a local GP who has arranged for a number of people to be tested, as is the usual process during winter when a number of respiratory illness routinely circulate," he said in a statement.

"Because the affected residents have mild respiratory symptoms, testing for Covid-19 is being undertaken as a precaution, as well as testing for other respiratory viruses."

As there was currently no community transmission of Covid-19 in New Zealand, it was "highly unlikely that this outbreak is due to anything other than normal seasonal respiratory illness," he said.

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The village offers rest home facilities, hospital-level care and serviced apartments.

There are 34 beds at the village, according to its website.

Owners Jenny and Finn Stokes say they have "two decades of experience in the aged-care industry".

There is no sign of CDHB, St John or any other emergency responders at the facility this afternoon.

Many of the building's windows were open and some of its access gates shut up.

But gardeners were still working in the grounds and staff were seen leaving.

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