The Ministry of Health this evening has announced 13 more people have died with Covid-19, and are reporting 11,217 new community cases today.
This takes the total of deaths since the pandemic started to 615.
Of those who have died, one person is in their 40s, two are in their 50s, four are in their 60s, three are in their 80s and three in their 90s or older.
A technical hiccup meant the Covid-19 case numbers for today were delayed.
The seven-day rolling average of case numbers continues to decline, with today’s seven-day rolling average at 7,834 – last Wednesday it was 9,288.
Of those who have passed away, five were female and eight were male.
“This is a very sad time for whānau and friends and our thoughts are with them,” the ministry said.
Of those who have died, Nelson-Marlborough, Auckland, Northland, Hawkes Bay, Waitemata, Mid-Central and Taranaki each recorded one death. While Hutt Valley, Whanganui and Canterbury reported two deaths.
There are currently 547 people in hospital and 14 people in ICU.
Canterbury DHB today recorded the highest number of cases with 1,855.
Location of new community cases are: Northland (528), Waitemata (948), Auckland (762), Counties Manukau (793), Waikato (819), Bay of Plenty (482), Lakes (208), Hawke’s Bay (365), MidCentral (456), Whanganui (186), Taranaki (354), Tairāwhiti (116), Wairarapa (98), Capital and Coast (698), Hutt Valley (359), Nelson Marlborough (341), Canterbury (1,855), South Canterbury (289), Southern (1,410), West Coast (142), Unknown (8).
While the number of reported community cases is expected to continue to fluctuate day to day, but the ministry said the overall trend remains an overall reduction in reported cases.
At 1pm, it was revealed there are 547 Covid-19 cases in hospital, including 14 in intensive care.
The current average age of those in hospital is 61. However, this is the average age of current hospitalisations for the Northern Region admissions.
“We are currently working on a data solution which would include the average age of current hospitalisations from additional DHBs.”
In regards to hospitalisations, Waitemata DHB currently has the highest number of Covid-19 patients with 92.
Today, there are cases in hospital in Northland (41), Waitematā (92), Counties Manukau (82), Auckland (83), Waikato (38), Bay of Plenty (22), Lakes (seven), Hawke’s Bay (17), Taranaki (nine), Whanganui (four), MidCentral (12), Wairarapa (four), Hutt Valley (18), Capital and Coast (15), Nelson Marlborough (nine), Canterbury (49), South Canterbury (four), West Coast (one) and Southern (40).
Omicron cases and hospitalisations have continued to fall as the Covid-19 variant slowly eases in New Zealand.
Case numbers are dropping each day, though the daily Covid death rate remains relatively steady.
Yesterday 8270 new cases were reported in the community and five people died with the virus – taking the total tally of reported deaths to 602.
The seven-day rolling average of case numbers continues to decline – yesterday’s was 7585, about 2200 fewer than what it was last Tuesday.
To date, 95.2 per cent of people have had two Covid vaccine doses and 71.3 per cent of those eligible have had a booster.
The Government is still mulling whether to offer a fourth dose to the vulnerable – something Australia and other countries are moving to do – and in the meantime, its focus is on lifting coverage rates.
Anyone aged over 16 who has completed their primary course – two doses for most people – at least three months ago is eligible for a booster, but further shots are not currently available.
Experts told the Herald that, barring no dramatic turn in the pandemic, we shouldn’t expect to have to top ourselves up as quickly as we did after the second shot.
“What we know is that, six months post-boosting, protection against severe disease is still good – so it doesn’t look like everybody is going to need to rapidly be boosted,” said Dr Nikki Turner, director of the University of Auckland’s Immunisation Advisory Centre.
Meanwhile, New Zealand officials are closely watching a new Omicron subvariant that has been detected in New South Wales.
Discovered in the UK in mid-January, XE is a hybrid of the original Omicron subtype BA.1 and the faster-spreading, now-dominant BA.2.
Amid concern XE could be more transmissible, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that, if it arrived here, officials would need to look at its characteristics and whether stricter rules were needed to keep case numbers down.
However, one expert isn’t convinced XE poses our next big Covid-19 threat.
University of Auckland computational biologist Dr David Welch said it now appeared the subtype didn’t have the legs to outcompete BA.2.
“The evidence for it having any significant transmission advantage isn’t there still – and the latest estimates show that it could be 10 per cent under BA.2,” Welch said.
“Anything that’s going to survive at all has to be at least equal to BA.2.”
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