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New Zealand records first COVID-19 death in 3 months

September 4, 2020

Health officials said the man was part of a second wave of infections discovered in Auckland last month. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended coronavirus-related restrictions until at least mid-September.

A general view of Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand
Image: Getty Images/H. Peters

New Zealand on Friday registered its first coronavirus death since May 24. The COVID-19 death toll in the country now stands at 23.

"The man in his 50s was part of the August Auckland cluster and died earlier today at Middlemore Hospital," the health ministry said in a statement.

"I acknowledge the anxiety New Zealanders may be feeling about today's news, both in the wider community and also for the family and whanau (relatives) grieving over this death," said Ashley Bloomfield, chief executive at the ministry.

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

A fresh cluster of infections emerged in Auckland last month, bringing to an end 102 days free of community transmission in New Zealand.

Read more: New Zealand delays general election after coronavirus return

Auckland on alert

The health ministry also reported five new coronavirus infections on Friday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place until at least mid-September.

"The best economic response remains a strong health response. If we get it right we will ultimately shake off restrictions faster and lessen the risk of bouncing around," Ardern told a news conference.

Auckland, the country's largest city, will remain on alert level 2.5, which limits gatherings to no more than 10 people.

jsi/rt (Reuters, AFP)