A grief-stricken family believe an elderly relative, a resident at the west Auckland St Margaret's Hospital and Rest Home, succumbed to the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus without her death being recorded as an official statistic.
A death notice released on Wednesday for 96-year-old Eileen Hunter said the woman died "due to COVID-19" on May 24.
As reported by the New Zealand Herald, Hunter's grieving family believe she contracted the virus during an outbreak at the rest home, but her death has not been recorded in the Ministry of Health's official statistics.
New Zealand's current death toll due to COVID-19 stands at 21.
In a statement to the newspaper on Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed the ministry is aware of Hunter's death and the case is under investigation.
Hunter's son, Patrick, told the outlet he is suspicious of his mother's diagnosis. After apparently testing negative for the virus, Hunter was transferred back to the rest home from Waitakere Hospital. But her condition didn't improve.
A Waitemata DHB document dated April 17 says the 96-year-old did have COVID-19, the same day she and other rest home residents were taken to Waitakere Hospital.
Patrick says it has been a "total shambles".
The family is waiting for the death certificate to be signed off.
St Margaret's rest home recorded its first COVID-19 case on April 4, but was soon overwhelmed with an outbreak of infections. The facility was closed to visitors on March 23. Three people related to the cluster died.
Patrick Hunter told the Herald his mother was as "sharp as a tack" and had a great sense of humour.
Her funeral will be held on Friday in Auckland's Te Atatu Peninsula.