What we know about Christchurch rest home cluster

A coronavirus outbreak at a Christchurch rest home that claimed the life of a 90-year-old resident is thought to have infected at least 20 others, including staff.

Health authorities announced today that a woman who lived at Rosewood Rest Home and Hospitals at Woodham Rd in Linwood had died in Burwood Hospital after contracting the virus.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay told media today the woman's family were unable to visit her after she and 19 other residents were transferred to Burwood.

Staff did all they could to provide her comfort before her death, which is New Zealand's second coronavirus-related fatality. The woman, who had a number of age-related health conditions, died yesterday and recently had returned a positive test.

The Rosewood coronavirus cluster has 21 cases (confirmed and probable). The first case was confirmed on April 3. Three days later there were at least 12.

McElnay couldn't say how many people at the rest home had been tested but said investigations were under way to find out how the outbreak started.

On the Ministry of Health website the cluster's origin is defined as "overseas exposure", and Canterbury DHB has said it is highly likely a staff member brought the virus into the unit, given strict visiting restrictions under the level 4 nationwide lockdown.

Some people displaying symptoms at the rest home hadn't been tested because of their particular vulnerabilities and the distress it would cause them, the ministry said, but they were being treated as probable cases.

The privately owned facility has two specialised dementia care units and had a total of 64 residents.

CDHB chief executive David Meates said the DHB expressed its deepest sympathies to the family of the 90-year-old woman who died, and asked that their request for privacy is respected.

On Monday, Meates authorised the transfer of 20 residents from its hospital level dementia facility to Burwood Hospital and an acting manager for Rosewood Rest Home be appointed effective immediately.

In addition to the group transferred to Burwood, there are an additional 44 residents with dementia remaining at Rosewood Rest Home in two separate wings.

The rest home has carried out a deep clean of affected wings, before any residents can be moved back. A large number of staff now have to self-isolate (including the facility manager) – which is why the DHB says it appointed a temporary manager.

The DHB has worked to secure additional experienced staff to care for the remaining residents. If unable to source appropriate staff, CDHB said it may have to look at further relocations, although this is not the current plan.

Clusters have increasingly become the centre of the New Zealand coronavirus epidemic, overtaking overseas transmission as the main source of the virus. The Ministry of Health defines a cluster as a group of Covid-19 cases linked because those infected were in the same place.

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