Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: 6718 new cases, 604 people in hospital; 12 more deaths

New Zealand’s steady decline in Covid cases continues – with 6718 new cases reported today, but a further 12 Covid-related deaths.

There are 604 people in hospital with the virus, including 22 in intensive care.

The 6718 cases is the lowest reported daily tally since February 24 – 45 days ago – when there were 6137 cases reported.

Otago University’s Professor Michael Baker is cautiously optimistic we’re now on top of the Omicron outbreak.

He says every DHB, apart from the South Island’s West Coast, should be confident they’ve now hit or are experiencing their peak.

With the 12 newly reported deaths, New Zealand’s death toll now stands at 489.

The deaths reported today include people who have died over the past 17 days. The Ministry of Health said delays to reporting could be associated with people dying with, rather than from, Covid-19, as well as those whose infection was only discovered after they died.

Eight of those who died were from Auckland, two from MidCentral, one from the Lakes DHB area and one from Hawke’s Bay.

One was aged in their 40s, one in their 50s, three in their 60s, two in their 70s, two in their 80s and three people over 90. Six were women and six were men. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13.

“This is a very sad time for whānau and friends and our thoughts and condolences are with them,” the Ministry said. “Out of respect, we will be making no further comment.”

Average case numbers are continuing to fall, which the Ministry said was encouraging – although testing and reporting were generally lower over the weekend.

Today’s seven-day rolling average of community cases is 10,543 compared to 13,543 last Sunday.

Auckland had the highest number of new community cases at 1202, followed by Canterbury with 1170 new cases. The other new cases were in Northland (344), Waikato (514), Bay of Plenty (300), Lakes (112), Hawke’s Bay (268), MidCentral (334), Whanganui (152), Taranaki (215), Tairāwhiti (80), Wairarapa (84), Capital and Coast (458), Hutt Valley (249), Nelson Marlborough (228), South Canterbury (118), Southern (819) and West Coast (65), while the location of six was unknown.

Another 31 cases were found at the border.

There are 73,785 community cases considered active – meaning they were identified in the past seven days and not yet classified as recovered. There have been a total of 765,609 confirmed cases in New Zealand.

Despite the falling case numbers, the Ministry reminded people to stay vigilant, follow public health advice, and get vaccinated if they had not done so.

While there is optimism over the steady decline in cases, officials have warned to expect a long tail of hospitalisations.

The Ministry of Health reported 8531 new community cases on Saturday, nearly 1400 fewer cases than the previous day.

There were also 11 Covid-related deaths reported on Saturday – four in the Auckland region, two in Wellington and one each from Waikato, the Lakes District, Hawke’s Bay Whanganui and Canterbury.

While New Zealand’s cases appear to have peaked, health officials are concerned about what could happen over the coming months – with waning Covid immunity and the onset of winter illnesses.

Dion O’Neale, from Te Punaha Matatini, said New Zealanders’ immunity from vaccination and infection will be waning over the next few months.

“Both of those will be waning at about the same speed and as we move into winter that’s going to be around when that immunity is lower combined with that seasonal effect so we’d expect to see case numbers to be going up then.”

O’Neale said he expected cases to settle at about 1000 per day per million people for now, which almost reflected the situation in Auckland.

Earlier this week Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director said GPs were concerned about the onset of winter illnesses on top of Covid.

Pressure on the health system throughout Covid had led to lower childhood immunisation rates for things like whooping cough and measles, Betty said.

“Every winter the system becomes stretched in New Zealand and we’re going to have Covid on top of it.

“Covid is still going to be present, it’s just going to be in peaks and troughs … so that is a really mixed picture with a lot of potential demand on the system over the coming months.

Breakdown of hospital stats

The 604 people in hospital are in Northland (23), Waitemata (94), Counties Manukau (109), Auckland (104), Waikato (60), Bay of Plenty (30), Lakes (7), Tairāwhiti (3), Hawke’s Bay (14), Taranaki (8), Whanganui (10), MidCentral (20), Hutt Valley (13), Capital and Coast (16), Nelson Marlborough (14), Canterbury (45), South Canterbury (3), West Coast (5) and Southern (26). Nobody is in hospital with Covid in Wairarapa.

The average age of those in hospital in the Northern Region’s DHBs is 59.

Among those in Northern Region hospitals, 35 people (11 per cent) are unvaccinated or not eligible, seven (2 per cent) are partially immunised, 54 (17 per cent) are double vaccinated, and 72 (22 per cent are boosted) while the vaccination status of another 156 cases (48 per cent) is unknown.

In the last 24 hours 1812 people got a PCR test and 13,402 Rapid Antigen Tests were reported. Some 3.6 million RATs were dispatched in the seven days to April 8.

Yesterday 52 people had a first dose of the vaccine, 136 had a second dose and five had a third primary dose. Another 2093 had a booster dose, while 183 children aged 5-11 got their first jab and 2291 got their second.

Of over-12s in New Zealand, 72.7 per cent of those eligible are boosted and 95.2 per cent are double-vaccinated.

Among Māori, 57.3 per cent are boosted and 88.2 per cent are double-vaccinated. For Pacific peoples the booster rate is 59.3 per cent and 96.5 per cent are double-vaccinated.
Among children aged 5-11, 54.1 per cent have had their first dose of the paediatric vaccine and 20.5 per cent have had their second.

For Māori children just 35.1 per cent have had a first dose and 9.6 per cent have had a second, while 47.3 per cent of Pacific children have had a first dose and 10.9 per cent have had a second.

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