Coronavirus: No new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, one additional death

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced on Thursday.

It marks the sixth consecutive day of no new cases in the country, with the last confirmed case being recorded on Friday. The overall case total therefore remains at 1504 - 1154 of which are confirmed, and 350 probable. 

As of Thursday, 1474 people have recovered from the virus - 12 more than Wednesday - with only eight active cases nationwide.

No one is currently hospitalised with COVID-19.

"Our numbers today reinforce that New Zealand continues to do well in its efforts against COVID-19," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"We need to continue the hard work we have all put in to ensure we continue to maintain our zero cases, our ongoing downward trajectory and that we don't allow a second peak to occur."

The death of a woman from St Margaret's Hospital and Rest Home in Auckland has been counted towards the official death toll after consideration, bringing New Zealand's virus-related deaths to 22.

Eileen Hunter, 96, was confirmed as having COVID-19 in mid-April. Along with other infected rest home residents, Hunter was taken to Waitakere Hospital and later North Shore Hospital for treatment. Once she was deemed as recovered, returning two negative test results, she was transferred back to the rest home in Te Atatu Peninsula, Dr Bloomfield confirmed.

In an interview published on Thursday, Hunter's family said the 96-year-old's condition did not improve despite being classified as a recovered case, calling the process a "shambles".

As Hunter was regarded as recovered at the time of her death, COVID-19 is not listed as the primary cause of death on her death certificate. However, a death notice released on Wednesday said the 96-year-old passed "due to COVID-19" on Sunday, May 24.

Dr Bloomfield noted that after careful consideration, the Ministry of Health has added Hunter's death to the country's official statistics "consistent with our inclusive approach to date".

"COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate. However, after consideration, we have decided to include Eileen's death in our overall tally of COVID-19-related deaths," he said.

Dr Bloomfield noting Hunter was "much loved by all those who knew her" and extended the Ministry of Health's sympathy to her family for their loss.

The decision to include Hunter's death in the official tally is consistent with the ministry's aim to cover the "full impact" of the virus on New Zealanders' health and wellbeing, Dr Bloomfield said.

On Wednesday, 4255 tests were processed, bringing the overall processed test total to 271,690.

Dr Bloomfield warned everyone to "stay safe and well" over the upcoming Queen's Birthday weekend, referencing the World Health Organization's sobering warning that the world is still in the middle of the first wave and a second wave - potentially across many countries - is likely if restrictions continue to be relaxed.

NZ COVID Tracer app

Dr Bloomfield confirmed that as of Thursday, there have 436,000 registrations on the Government's official COVID-19 contact tracing app, which was launched last week - 14,000 more than Wednesday.

"It will help us identify, trace and [contact] anyone who may need to be followed up if they are a close contact of a case, if we get one," he said, encouraging all New Zealanders to download the app.

There are now 18,500 active businesses who have a QR code in their premises for customers to scan should they visit. The data is stored on the user's phone should the ministry need a record of their location history, however this is deleted after 31 days for privacy reasons.