Coronavirus: New Zealanders urged to stay in touch with elderly after second COVID-19 death

The woman was the second New Zealander to die from COVID-19, and part of a cluster of cases at Rosewood Rest Home.
The woman was the second New Zealander to die from COVID-19, and part of a cluster of cases at Rosewood Rest Home. Photo credit: Facebook/ Rosewood Rest Home

New Zealanders are being asked to stay in touch with the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic, following the country's second coronavirus death.

Age Concern Canterbury CEO Simon Templeton says the elderly need help and comforting during the pandemic as they have to stay inside due to the high risk of serious illness or death, should they contract the coronavirus.

"It is really important at this time that people stay in touch with their family members and their friends, so if there is an older person in your life - even if they are somewhere other than where you are living - do stay in touch with them," he says.

"Call them regularly, make sure they have the things that they need and if they don't, put things in place to make sure they have groceries, medication, that they have the care that they need."

His advice comes after a woman in her 90s died in Burwood Hospital in Christchurch on Thursday. 

Templeton says it is extremely sad for the woman and her family and highlights the importance of New Zealanders following the lockdown rules.

"Well it's the same message for all of us and that message is to follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, they are very clear and we need to take this extremely seriously. 

"We've had a second death of an old person and we are all going through this difficult time to avoid more of that. So people need to stay at home and stay in their bubble."

The woman was the second New Zealander to die from COVID-19, and part of a cluster of cases at Rosewood Rest Home.

Chief executive Canterbury District Health Board David Meates says they are supporting the rest home during the pandemic, including moving 20 dementia patients to hospital for two to three weeks.

"The reason we are transferring them to Burwood Hospital is not because of their condition, it's more just in terms of being able to manage them in a safe and appropriate environment, and that's enabling us to have appropriate rooms and for staff to be able to use PPE appropriately as well," he says.

"It's a really, really difficult time for individuals to be shifted from what is effectively their home and taking these choices, these decisions we don't take lightly but it is very much in the ability to ensure the safety of these residents."

While the residents are in hospital, the rest home is being deep cleaned and assessed on whether it is appropriate for residents to return.

Currently Meates says they aren't sure how COVID-19 managed to get into the rest home, but it is expected to have come in through a staff member who was unaware they may have come into contact with coronavirus.