Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 10 dead, 18,514 new community cases

Ten more people have died and there are more than 18,500 new case of Covid in the community.

This takes the death toll of publicly reported Covid related deaths to 166, and the 7-day rolling average of reported deaths to 8, the Ministry of Health said.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 17,641, down slightly from 17,673 yesterday.

“Delays to reporting can be associated with people dying with, rather than of Covid-19, and Covid-19 being determined after they have died”, the ministry said.

“Due to these fluctuations in the daily reported figures, the ministry regards the seven day rolling average as a better indicator of deaths with Covid-19.”

There are 939 people in hospital, including 24 in intensive care. The average age of those hospitalised is 57.

Meanwhile, there are also 45 new cases at the border.

Today’s figures take the number of active community cases to 123,481 – though some experts fear it is higher with testing numbers dropping.

It comes after public health expert Michael Baker said cases had peaked in almost all district health boards.

And those that hadn’t, would soon, the University of Otago epidemiologist said.

The location of new community cases is Northland (643), Auckland (4346), Waikato (1729), Bay of Plenty (1221), Lakes (541), Hawke’s Bay (1108), MidCentral (847), Whanganui (273), Taranaki (601), Tairāwhiti (365), Wairarapa (260), Capital and Coast (1237), Hutt Valley (697), Nelson Marlborough (457), Canterbury (2694), South Canterbury (217), Southern (1224) and West Coast (42).

The location of 12 new community cases is classed as unknown.

Of the 10 people who have died, one was from Northland, three were from Auckland, one from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from the Lakes DHB area, and one was from the Wellington.

One was in their 40s, two in their 60s, four in their 80s, and three were in their 90s. Six were women and four were men.

Most of those in hospital are in Auckland, with 218 in Middlemore, and 208 in Auckland City. There are no hospitalisation figures today for Waitematā district health board area hospitals.

Other hospitals are in Northland, with 29; Waikato, 58, Bay of Plenty, 33, Lakes, 6, Tairāwhiti, 4, Hawke’s Bay, 29, Taranaki, 6, MidCentral, 19, Hutt Valley, 20, Capital and Coast, 50, Wairarapa, 5, Whanganui, 3, Nelson Marlborough, 11, Canterbury, 48, South Canterbury, 1, and Southern, 22.

The vaccination status of those currently hospitalised in Northland and Auckland metro hospitals only, and excluding the emergency department, is 17.8 unvaccinated or not eligible,2.4 per cent partially vaccinated, 35 per cent double vaccinated and 38.2 per cent double vaccinated and boosted. Just over 6 per cent of cases are of unknown vaccination status.

“The figures show that just under 3 per cent of people aged 12 and over in the Northern Region have had no doses of the vaccine, while of those aged 12 and over in Northland and Auckland hospitals with Covid-19 for whom we have vaccination status recorded, 16.3 per cent have had no doses of the vaccine and are five times over-represented in our hospitalisation figures”, the ministry said.

Nationally, 95 per cent of people aged 12 and over have received at least two vaccinations, with 72.8 per cent of those eligible having also received their booster.

For Māori aged over 12, 87.9 per cent are double-dosed and 58.9 per cent of those eligible for a booster had received it.Pacific Peoples aged over 12 are 96.2 per cent double-dosed and 59.6 per cent of those eligible have been boosted.

There are now 53.7 per cent of children aged 5-11 with at least one dose of the vaccine recorded. Just over 6 per cent have also had their second shot.

Rates for tamariki Māori continue to lag, at 34.4 per cent for one dose and 3 per cent for two.

Of Pacific Peoples aged 5 to 11, 46.5 per cent have had one dose and 3.4 per cent two doses.

Baker earlier said case numbers had fallen across all district health boards yesterday.

“That’s the first time we’ve seen that. It looks like every DHB in New Zealand has now passed its peak – or if they haven’t, they’re very close to it.”

There have been increasing calls for changes to traffic light restrictions and vaccine pass mandates as case numbers fall.

It was time to scrap vaccine passes for all but large, indoor events, National Party leader Christopher Luxon said yesterday.

He also wanted all scanning requirements dropped immediately, along with vaccine mandates for under 18s, and for the current seven-day isolation period for Covid-19 cases and their household contacts to switch to five days.

Passes and the mandates had created division in New Zealand, and made life tough for those who opted not to be vaccinated, Luxon said.

Omicron had changed the game and the risk profile no longer warranted them, he said.

They would also be difficult to enforce once the border opened to vaccinated visitors, first to Australians on April 12 and then to those from visa-waiver countries on May 1.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday as the Omicron outbreak plateaued, the Government was working on reshaping the protection frameworks.

Auckland was currently plateauing, while modelling for the rest of the country showed it happening at the end of March, she said.

But she also warned of “future peaks” on the horizon, particularly in the winter months, and the threat of new variants.

Most cases continue to be detected by rapid antigen tests, with the results of 36,134 tests reported in the last 24 hours.

Over the same period 3828 PCR tests were done. The seven day rolling average for PCR tests is 4044.

The number of rapid antigen tests dispatched in the last seven days – as of March 15 – is 10.8 million. This number is not updated over the weekend, so reflects the number of tests dispatched as of yesterday.

Vaccinations continue to be administered, including 264 first doses, 478 second doses, 35 third primary doses and 5568 booster doses yesterday.

There were also 386 paediatric first doses and 5612 paediatric second doses given yesterday. The ministry again reminded people to report their rapid antigen test results.

“It only takes a couple of minutes and helps health officials assess the outbreak and better understand the spread of Omicron.

“In addition to reporting the test results through ‘My Covid Record’, parents and caregivers are now able to report test results of children under 12 and other family members by calling the My Covid Record team on 0800 222 478.”

“The number of cases and hospitalisations is a reminder that if you’re due any dose of the vaccine, including a booster, please get vaccinated as quickly as possible to ensure you are well protected against Omicron.

“Being boosted greatly reduces the chances of getting severely ill and could be lifesaving.”

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