New Zealand registered its first Covid-related death in six months on Saturday, but health authorities said there were signs that the outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant was coming under control.
A woman in her 90s, who had underlying health problems and was unable to receive a ventilator or intensive care support, died Friday night at an Auckland hospital.
She is the 27th person to die from Covid-19 in New Zealand and the first on record since February 16 this year.
Authorities said the woman was a household contact with a person who had already tested positive for the virus in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city with a population of about 1.7 million.
New Zealand has been battling a coronavirus outbreak since the first locally transmitted case in six months was discovered in mid-August, locking the country of five million people.
Since then, 782 cases have been registered, mainly in Auckland, which is still at the highest level of restrictions, while the rest of the country has eased restrictions.
The death was “a deeply sad reminder of why the measures we are taking now are so important,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“Our elderly New Zealanders and those with underlying health conditions are by far the most at risk from the virus, and one of the reasons why lockdowns are such an important tool in stopping its spread.”
Only 20 new positive cases were reported Saturday, down from a peak in the latest outbreak of 84 last weekend.
Caroline McEnlay, the director of public health, described last week’s declining numbers as “encouraging” and said “we are succeeding in breaking the chain of transmission.”