West Coast woman Anne Guenole died in Grey Hospital on Sunday morning. Photo: File

Covid-19 on March 30: Details on new cases, NZ’s first death and supermarkets under spotlight

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* NZ cases rise by 63, to a total of 514 – but the country has recorded its first death

Supermarkets are set to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as the Government places extra scrutiny on their behaviour and pricing.

The focus on supermarkets comes as New Zealand enters its fifth day of lockdown and the first victim of Covid 19 is named, West Coast woman Anne Guenole.

Guenole of Kaiata, a small settlement inland from Greymouth, died in Grey Base Hospital on Sunday morning after having been confirmed as having the virus on Friday.

She was aged in her 70s and had originally been diagnosed with influenza and officials are still trying to confirm how she might have contracted Covid-19. The case has left family baffled as they mourn her death.

According to a death notice, Guenole’s husband Peter died in Christchurch Hospital “with family by his side” in August.

Twenty-one Grey Base Hospital staff are in self-isolation because they did not initially use a visor or eye goggles – part of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for treating Covid-19 patients – when they tended to Guenole.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said death was “devastating”.

Another man in his 70s is in intensive care on a ventilator in Nelson Hospital.

Nelson Marlborough cases:

  • 28/03/20 Male aged 30 to 39 – Arrived in NZ from UAE on 16/03/20
  • 25/03/20 Male aged 30 to 39 – Arrived in NZ on 18/03/20 from Sydney
  • 25/03/20 Male aged 60 to 69
  • 25/03/20 Male aged 50 to 59
  • 24/03/20 Female aged 50 to 59 (PROBABLE)
  • 24/03/20 Male aged 60 to 69 – Arrived in NZ on 16/03/20 (NZ5065) from Los Angeles
  • 24/03/20 Male aged 70+
  • 23/03/20 Female aged 70+
  • 23/03/20 Male aged 30 to 39 – Arrived in NZ on 18/03/20 (NZ8205) from Sydney
  • 23/03/20 Male aged 50 to 59 – Arrived in NZ on 19/03/20 from Sydney
  • 22/03/20 Female aged 50 to 59
  • 22/03/20 Male aged 20 to 29 – Arrived in NZ on 20/03/20 (NZ8321) from Meribel
  • 22/03/20 Male aged 70+ – Arrived in NZ on 19/03/20 (NZ5071) from Sydney
  • 22/03/20 Female aged 70+ – Arrived in NZ on 19/03/20 (NZ5071) from Sydney
  • 22/03/20 Male aged 50 to 59 – Arrived in NZ on 18/03/20 (NZ8205) from Sydney
  • 21/03/20 Male aged 30 to 39
  • 21/03/20 Male aged 60 to 69 – Arrived in NZ on 8/03/20 from Perth
  • 20/03/20 Female aged 60 to 69
  • 20/03/20 Female aged 20 to 29 – Arrived in NZ on 16/03/20 (NZ5065) from Houston

Supermarkets under spotlight

The Cabinet meets again today and wants to ensure that supermarket supply chains, pricing, and customer and staff welfare are all up to scratch, given their importance to New Zealanders during the lockdown.

“We don’t obviously have legal footing to enforce specials, but we can on price gouging,” Ardern told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking today.

She added that the Government had seen no evidence of that so far.

She had been speaking to Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi who had checked directly on claims of price gouging of items such as cauliflowers.

While there had been issues of chickens being mistakenly weighted – and therefore mistakenly priced – and some supply issues, the Government had not found any price-gouging issues.

Ardern indicated she was keen on supermarkets opening on days that they were traditionally not allowed to, such as Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so as to give New Zealanders maximum access to food and essential supplies.

But she also wanted to check with supermarkets on whether they needed those days to help re-stock shelves. She said she would have more to say on supermarkets today.

Ardern told Hosking the Government had resolved the issue of mixed messages over where people could and couldn’t go in lockdown.

“I think the message around staying local has been clear… but no one has locked down New Zealand before. This is something we did in a 48-hour period. It wasn’t always going to be perfect.”

The Government was looking at the supply of products such as halal meat – and this was being resolved. The Government and MBIE had taken the approach of being as tight as possible on what represented essential services, and worked back from there.

Levelling down?

Ardern and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield spoke about the chances of New Zealand coming down to level 3 in four weeks.

Bloomfield told Hosking that might be possible if modelling showed the level 4 precautions were having a positive impact on the trend line of cases, and if, for example, New Zealand was returning to isolated cases.

Officials believe it will take around 10 days before we see any impact or trend from the lockdown rules, and whether they are working.

Ardern said it wasn’t just the sheer number – but the type of cases. For example, if we got to the point of having 100 per cent of cases originating from overseas cases, that was “under control somewhat” compared with other scenarios.

“We are still doing contact tracing on every case, even now.”

In New Zealand, the number of confirmed cases rose by 63 yesterday, taking the total to 514.

Although the number of new cases was lower than the previous two days, Ardern said the country needed to remain vigilant.

Hospitals would normally be operating at 90 per cent to 100 per cent occupancy heading into winter but were now at about half full, Bloomfield said.

“Staffing levels won’t be a problem,” he said.

  • With NZ Herald