New Zealand: Covid-positive person dies alone at home during isolation

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A person with Covid-19 who was self-isolating alone in their Auckland home has been found dead and investigations are under way to determine if the virus was the cause.

The 40-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19 on 24 October and had been isolating in Manukau, a south Auckland suburb. He was found by a family member who visited on Wednesday.

It is the third death of a person with Covid-19 in the current Delta outbreak, and New Zealand’s 29th since the pandemic began. There are now 3,871 cases in the community outbreak, with 139 reported on Thursday. Of those, 136 were in Auckland, two in Waikato and one in Northland.People queue in their cars to get Covid-19 vaccinations. A person with the virus has died alone at their home in Auckland, New Zealand.© Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images People queue in their cars to get Covid-19 vaccinations. A person with the virus has died alone at their home in Auckland, New Zealand.

The cause of the 40-year-old’s death was unknown and the coroner would determine whether it was due to the virus, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Related: New Zealand gang leaders unite to urge community to get Covid shots

Speaking to RNZ on Thursday, the director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said there was no indication at this stage the person had required any extra support, but that a formal investigation was under way.

“At this stage we don’t have any more information but we do have a very formal investigation protocol that we initiated to look and see what might have happened from a health perspective and will work with police.”

A daily check-in, usually via email, is standard procedure for those isolating at home, followed up with a phone call if there is no reply.

Meanwhile, government ministers are at odds over how and when Aucklanders will be allowed to travel outside the city’s boundary during summer.

The city, which is at the heart of New Zealand’s Delta outbreak and is in its third month of lockdown, is surrounded by a strict border. The government has signalled that the border will only reopen once every district health board in the country reaches a 90% vaccination rate for their region. And while Auckland is on track to reach that goal by Christmas, modelling shows that other areas may not get there until mid-January, if at all.

Earlier in the week prime minister Jacinda Ardern indicated that the government was setting up a border control system that will allow vaccinated Aucklanders who test negative to the virus to leave the region for Christmas and summer.

On Wednesday, the Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, told RNZ the government was considering giving Aucklanders an allocated time slot to leave the region over the summer holidays.

Hipkins said the measure would reduce the risk of traffic queues at the boundary checkpoints, as vaccination certificates are checked.

“We haven’t made that decision yet. It’s an option. We’re just working through what the practical options are to ensure that we don’t end up with people spending days sitting in their cars.

Related: New Zealand’s South Island records first Covid cases in major city in over a year

“What I’m foreshadowing is that we are considering … whether there are practical ways of helping to manage it.”

But deputy prime minister Grant Robertson on Thursday squashed that idea.

“I can’t see that – it wouldn’t be very practical. But we do have to find a way through in the event that we still have a boundary there,” he told RNZ.

“So we’ll work our way through it but what we’re saying to Aucklanders [is] get vaccinated, the rest of the country get vaccinated. That will make travel a lot easier because there won’t be boundaries in that environment.”

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