Inquiry into Covid death nears end

A Southern District Health Board investigation into the death of an Invercargill man from Covid-19 is in its final stages, the Ministry of Health says.

Alister Peter Brookland, in his 70s, died at his Kingswell home on April 14, and was New Zealand’s first death in the community from causes related to Covid-19.

The death was logged as an adverse event by the SDHB, which has since been investigating Mr Brookland’s treatment.

At the time Mr Brookland died Covid-19 cases were usually cared for in their own homes, a ministry spokeswoman said.

"As the pandemic has evolved, and we have learned more about Covid-19, we have continued to update our advice.

"Clinical guidelines for the care of a person with Covid-19 in the community have since been updated and are available nationally."

Those guidelines, which were last updated in June, include recommendations that patients stay in a room by themselves as much as possible, stay at home except to get medical care, avoid sharing household items and the person’s home be keep clean and well ventilated.

"Seek prompt medical attention if you are feeling worse (eg, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing)," they said.

"Follow the instruction you have received from your public health unit, health care provider or hospital."

The ministry spokeswoman said procedures were that community cases of Covid-19 would be individually assessed to ensure that they were in the most appropriate accommodation.

"This includes managed isolation or quarantine facilities (MIQ), hospital for those few who require more advanced levels of care, or in their own homes — with oversight from the local medical officer of health and local primary care providers, and in circumstances where it is safe for them and the community for them to do so."

During the cluster of cases in Auckland in August almost all community transmission cases were sent to MIQ facilities.

SDHB medical officer of health Susan Jack said Mr Brookland’s death was early in the Covid-19 pandemic, both globally and in New Zealand.

"Much more understanding of this complex disease has now been gained and our protocols have been updated and aligned with the current ministry of health guidelines."

Those were that Covid-19 cases should now, generally, be managed in isolation and quarantine facilities rather than at home, Dr Jack said.

Mr Brookland was linked to the Bluff wedding cluster, which was connected to more than 90 Covid-19 cases and the death of the groom’s father.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said last year that although he had been diagnosed with Covid-19, Mr Brookland had not been "clinically unwell" before his death.

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