Former Cook Islands Prime Minister Joe Williams, battling COVID-19, dies

Former Cook Islands Prime Minister Joe Williams has died of COVID-19. 

Dr Williams, who ran a medical practise near the Americold facility in Mt Wellington at the centre of Auckland's coronavirus outbreak, was admitted to Auckland City Hospital on August 13 with COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health confirmed he is the second person in New Zealand to die of COVID-19 in as many days, and our 24th fatality overall.

He died on Friday night at Auckland City Hospital.

"Dr Williams was seen as a leading figure in the Cook Islands medical community and he will be sadly missed," said Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.

"Our thoughts are with his family and community at this time of loss and grief. 

"Today's sad news again reinforces the importance of our shared vigilance against COVID-19, the very serious consequences the virus can carry with it, and the measures we all need to take to stop the spread, break any chain of transmission and prevent deaths."

Earlier on Saturday, Cook Islands News reported his death and a family member confirmed the news to Newshub.

Dr Williams is also being mourned by the Pasifika Medical Association, for which he was a patron.

"His love, generosity and kindness has touched so many families, friends and colleagues. He has left us all with the gifts of his journey, and for that we are forever grateful," said nephew and president of the Pasifika Medical Association, Dr Kiki Maoate.

Dr Williams was briefly Prime Minister of the Cook Islands in 1999. He also spent time as Minister of Health and Education.

He was in his 80s.

More details about the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak will be revealed at 1pm as usual.