Coronavirus: New Zealand suffers 25th COVID-19 death, brother of previous victim

New Zealand has suffered its 25th COVID-19 death.

Tokoroa man Nigel Te Hiko, 54, died in Waikato Hospital's ICU unit on Tuesday afternoon. He contracted the virus from his brother, Alan, who also succumbed to the illness earlier this month.  

Nigel was admitted to hospital on August 19.

"The man's whanau has asked us to tell the country that coronavirus is so real and to be vigilant and cautious. They have issued a plea to all New Zealanders: If you are sick and have symptoms, stay home and seek advice about having a test," the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday.

Dr Bloomfield said the death emphasises the seriousness of the virus if it is not controlled. He said his thoughts are with the man's loved ones.

"I can't imagine how devastating this is for this whanau."

Alan worked at the Mt Wellington Americold facility which had several employees test positive for COVID-19 when it re-emerged in the Auckland community in August. It's understood the cluster's index case worked at the cool store. 

He had recently visited Tokoroa to visit his whanau, not knowing he was unwell with COVID-19.

Alan spent two weeks battling the virus in intensive care in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital before becoming New Zealand's 23rd fatality from the illness.

The 24th person to die was former Cook Islands Prime Minister Joe Williams. He ran a medical practice close to the Mt Wellington Americold facility.

As of Tuesday, New Zealand had recorded 1450 COVID-19 cases. Currently, the country has 83 active cases, of which 28 are imported and 55 are community cases.

A total of 178 people have been conenected to the August cluster, of which the origin remains unknown. Investigations have not yet been able to find any connection between the strain of virus and those in managed isolation or quarantine facilities. Environmental testing has also ruled out the virus coming into New Zealand on frozen packaging.