New Zealand suffers two coronavirus deaths in just 24 hours including a former Cook Islands PM

A former prime minister of the Cook Islands turned Auckland GP is one of two people in New Zealand to die from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

Joe Williams, 85, and an Auckland father of four aged in his 50s succumbed to the deadly virus in New Zealand, after 99 days without any loss of life.

Aotearoa enjoyed 102 days without cases of in the community before the emergence of a new cluster in Auckland.

On Saturday, health officials announced another two cases linked to that cluster, as well as a third new case picked up within the country’s border regime.

There are currently 112 active cases in New Zealand, with one receiving treatment in an intensive care unit in Waikato Hospital.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said he was saddened by Dr Williams’ passing.

“As a doctor, a health researcher and as a politician, Dr Williams made a serious mark on the communities he served. He will be greatly missed in both New Zealand and the Cook Islands,” he said.

“Dr Williams was a dedicated and passionate man. He was an enduring example of a Cook Islander who came to New Zealand for education, and then made a real difference in his chosen career.”

Dr Williams was a one-time candidate for Mr Peters’ NZ First party.

The two new deaths have lifted New Zealand’s death tally to 24.

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