Coronavirus: Details of New Zealand's first death

An elderly woman from the West Coast is New Zealand's first recorded death from COVID-19.

The woman, who was in her 70s, died on Sunday morning after she was initially suspected to be suffering from influenza complicated by an underlying chronic health condition, the Ministry of Health said.

As a result of the initial influenza diagnosis and the subsequent confirmation of COVID-19, there was a period where hospital staff were using protective equipment that was suitable for influenza but not COVID-19.

Once the diagnosis was confirmed, staff took "a range of measures" to protect themselves and other patients, but as a precaution the DHB has placed 21 hospital workers who came in contact with the patient into isolation.

The Ministry of Health's Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Sunday that the patient was well-known to the facility and its staff. Their underlying health condition meant they weren't treated with suspected COVID-19, hence the influenza diagnosis.

"As we have seen around the world COVID-19 can be a deadly disease, particularly for older people and those with underlying, pre-existing health conditions," Dr Bloomfield said.

"All of our thoughts are with their family and loved ones at this time."

Family members who were visiting the woman in hospital aren't showing any symptoms, but they will also be in monitored self-isolation for the next 14 days.

He said there is sufficient room in hospitals to manage the current and projected COVID-19 cases and, if needed, there are plans to boost capacity.

"This latest sad news reinforces our move to alert level four and the measures we are all taking to prevent spread, break the chain of transmission and prevent deaths," Dr Bloomfield said.

He also confirmed on Sunday there were 63 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. This number is made up of 60 confirmed and three probable cases.

There are nine people in hospital due to the virus across the country. There are three in Wellington Regional Hospital, one in Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, one in Nelson Hospital, one in Whangarei Hospital and one each in Waikato, Taranaki and Dunedin hospitals. One of these people is in an ICU on a ventilator, however the Ministry of Health isn't providing details on who that is.

A total of 56 people have recovered from the disease.

Over a seven-day period, an average of 1786 COVID-19 tests were taken each day.

Dr Bloomfield advised anyone who has been tested is expected to be in strict self-isolation until they know the results of their test. This means effectively quarantining themselves from other members of their household and family.

"We are still seeing a strong link among our cases to overseas travel, as well as links to confirmed cases," he said.

The current total of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand is 514.