There are 8,242 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.
The Ministry of Health reported a further 14 Covid-related deaths.
There are 480 people in hospital with the virus, including 15 in intensive care.
Eleven of these deaths were of people who had died over the previous seven days.
Three of people whose deaths were reported today had died between April 12 and 17.
“Delays to reporting can also be associated with people dying with Covid-19, rather than from Covid-19, and Covid being discovered only after they have died,” the ministry said in a statement.
These deaths took the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 737 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13.
Of the people whose deaths were reported today, two people were from the Auckland region, one from Bay of Plenty, one from Waikato, one from Taranaki, one from Whanganui, one from MidCentral, one from the Wellington region, five from Canterbury and one from Southern.
One person was in their 50s, two in their 70s, seven in their 80s, and four were over 90.
“With ongoing community transmission across the motu it is important we all remain vigilant. Please continue to follow public health advice to stay at home, away from school or work if you’re feeling unwell,” the ministry said.
“Another way to protect you, your whānau and friends is to get vaccinated, if you aren’t already. It’s free and available for everyone aged five and over.
Vaccination remains our best defence against Covid-19 and a booster – in addition to first and second doses – gives you greater immunity against Omicron and severe illness. There’s a much lower risk of being hospitalised if you’re up to date with your Covid-19 vaccinations.”
To date, 95.2 per cent of eligible New Zealanders, aged 12 and older, are double dosed and 71 per cent are boosted.
Of eligible children aged 5-11, 54.3 per cent have had one dose and 23.3 per cent have had two doses.
There are 52,771 active community cases in New Zealand.
Today’s seven-day rolling average of case numbers is 7540 – a reduction from last Friday, when it was 8166.
The 480 people with Covid-19 in hospital are in: Northland (34), Waitematā (73), Counties Manukau (65), Auckland (101), Waikato (43), Bay of Plenty (14), Lakes (two), Hawke’s Bay (nine), Taranaki (six), Whanganui (four), MidCentral (nine), Wairarapa (three), Hutt Valley (eight), Capital and Coast (six), Nelson Marlborough (seven), Canterbury (65), South Canterbury (two), West Coast (one) and the Southern region (28).
The locations of today’s community cases is Northland (233), Auckland (2446), Waikato (483), Bay of Plenty (265), Lakes (143), Hawke’s Bay (283), MidCentral (313), Whanganui (118), Taranaki (184), Tairāwhiti (68), Wairarapa (78), Capital and Coast (542), Hutt Valley (196), Nelson Marlborough (284), Canterbury (1462), South Canterbury (150), Southern (888) and the West Coast (103).
The location of three cases is unknown.
Meanwhile, 74 new Covid cases have been detected at the border.
Covid cases are dropping amongst children, but older Kiwis are still at risk as the New Zealand winter and flu season nears.
Despite the flattening out of case numbers Canterbury University modeller Professor Michael Plank said the ages of those infected was concerning.
He told TVNZ Breakfast case numbers were still high in the older at-risk groups.
“We know older people are at much, much higher risk of getting seriously ill and at risk of death.
“And what we’re seeing is that case numbers have dropped sharply in those younger age groups but they’ve actually stayed high or they’ve dropped much more slowly in those older age groups.
“I think that’s contributing to keeping our hospital numbers high and
keeping our deaths high.”
Plank told the show it was “a concerning trend” that was evident in the hospitalisation and recent deaths.
On average there are 12 Covid-related deaths per day in New Zealand.
The relaxation of Covid mandates under the orange traffic light setting combined with the opening of borders and the onset of winter meant there could be a bump in cases, Plank said.
“I don’t know if we will see a full-blown second wave at this stage but I do think we have to be prepared that case numbers will stay relatively high in the winter period, possibly in the thousands.
“It’s possible we will have a second wave as immunity wanes in winter or maybe in spring.”
New Zealand was at high risk of a bad flu season because, with closed borders, Kiwis hadn’t been exposed to the flu virus for two years.
On top of that Plank warned New Zealand needed to be prepared for the possibility of a new variant “that comes out of nowhere and takes the world by storm”.
Vaccine expert Helen Petoussis-Harris said Covid restrictions meant there was no exposure to the usual respiratory viruses that continually boost our immunity.
“This year it could be payback time for the holiday we had from influenza and some other nasties.”
She urged people to get vaccinated against other infectious diseases not caused by viruses that were particularly dangerous such as whooping cough and pneumococcal disease.
“These could both be more prevalent this winter,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Waikato DHB is offering free influenza and MMR immunisations alongside the Covid vaccine at its community vaccination sites.
GPs and pharmacies in the region are also providing vaccination services for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), influenza and whooping cough.
“Our borders being closed for two years protected us from influenza, but now they’ve re-opened we will be exposed to new flu variants along with other viruses such as measles,” said Dr Felicity Dumble, WDHB medical officer of health.
“We need vaccination rates of 95 per cent to reach ‘community immunity’ sometimes known as ‘herd immunity’ to help prevent outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.”
Flu shots are free for those aged 65 and over, Māori and Pacific people aged 55 and over, adults with health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, children aged 4 years or under who have a history of significant respiratory illness, and pregnant women.
Teenagers aged 16 or 17 can now get a Covid-19 booster, 6 months after completing their primary course, from any of the multi-vaccination sites.
Those who contracted Covid-19 during the latest outbreak will begin to become eligible for their boosters also, following a three-month stand-down to recover from the virus.
For information on booster vaccinations visit:Get your vaccine booster
For information on Influenza vaccinations visit: www.fightflu.co.nz
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