Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 13,475 community cases, 17 deaths

There are 13,475 new community Covid cases and 17 deaths today as this week shapes up to be the deadliest of the pandemic to date.

It takes the total number of publicly-reported deaths of people with Covid-19 to 355 and the seven-day rolling average to 17.

Seven of today’s deaths were people from the Auckland region, two from Waikato, one from Bay of Plenty, one from Lakes DHB, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from the Wellington region, one from Canterbury, one from the West Coast, and two were from the Southern region.

Two were aged in their 50s, four were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, three in their 80s and three were over 90.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with their whānau and friends at this sad time,” the Ministry of Health said.

There are 764 people in hospital with an average age of 58. Thirty-one people are in intensive care.

The seven day rolling average of cases is continuing to decline; today’s average is 14,171, compared to 17,197 last Friday.

The 17 deaths included people who had died over the past seven days, including 15 people who had died in the past two days.

Reporting delays could be due to people dying with, rather than from Covid, and the virus not being discovered until after they had died.

The locations of today’s community cases are: Northland (563), Auckland (2392), Waikato (1182), Bay of Plenty (688), Lakes (355), Hawke’s Bay (712), MidCentral (774), Whanganui (332), Taranaki (526), Tairāwhiti (172), Wairarapa (155), Capital and Coast (876), Hutt Valley (483), Nelson Marlborough (578), Canterbury (2,122), South Canterbury (267), Southern (1243) and the West Coast (56).

The location of five of the cases is unknown.

The location of those in hospital is: Northland (28), North Shore (108), Middlemore (148), Auckland (111), Waikato (82), Bay of Plenty (27), Lakes (17), Tairāwhiti (three), Hawke’s Bay (40), Taranaki (22), Whanganui (eight), MidCentral (25), Hutt Valley (20), Capital and Coast (20), Wairarapa (one), Nelson Marlborough (15), Canterbury (50), South Canterbury (eight), West Coast (one) and Southern (30).

Of the people in the Northern region (Auckland and Northland) hospitals, 51 cases or 13.5 per cent are either unvaccinated or not eligible for vaccination, eight cases or 2.1 per cent were partially immunised <7 days from the second dose or had only received one dose, 83 cases or 21.9 per cent were double vaccinated at least seven days before being reported as a case and 117 cases or 30.9 per cent had received their booster at least seven days before being reported as a case.

The vaccination status of 120 cases, or 31.7 per cent, was unknown.

The total number of active community cases is 99,185. The ministry classes active cases as cases that were identified in the past seven days but have not yet recovered.

Meanwhile, there are 49 cases at the border.

On testing, 13,131 of today’s reported community cases were found using RATs with 344 found using PCR testing. In the last 24 hours, 3427 PCR tests were processed.

In the last 24 hours, 3427 PCR tests were processed. In the seven days to March 29, 6.2m RATs were dispatched in New Zealand.

Iwi events

The ministry said a host of iwi-led Covid-19 vaccination events were taking place across the Bay of Plenty this weekend.

Tomorrow, there will be tamariki-focused events in Katikati, Tauranga, Te Puke, Kawerau, Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne.

Tauranga and Whakatāne will have events on Sunday as well.

Parents and whānau can also get vaccinated alongside the children.

“There will be kai, stress-free spaces, and activities for everyone.”

More information on these events can be found on the Bay of Plenty DHB’s website.

To date, 96.4 per cent of people eligible have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, 95.1 per cent have had two doses and 72.7 per cent have been boosted.

Of eligible Māori, aged 12 and older, 91.1 per cent have had their first dose, 88.1 per cent have had two doses and 57.7 per cent of those eligible have had a booster dose. For Pacific peoples, these figures are 98.2 per cent, 96.4 per cent and 59.3 per cent, respectively.

Fifty-four per cent of children aged 5-11 have had one dose and 17 per cent have had their second dose.

For Māori children, aged 5-11, 34.9 per cent have had one dose and 7.8 per cent have had two. For Pacific children, these figures are 47.1 per cent and 8.7 per cent, respectively.

“Getting boosted continues to be one of the most important ways people can protect themselves from Omicron and severe illness,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There is a much lower risk of being hospitalised if you are up to date with your vaccinations, which, for Omicron, includes a third or booster dose if eligible.”

Deadly week

As a review of the country’s Covid protection settings fast approaches, this week is shaping up to be the deadliest of the pandemic to date.

As of yesterday, there were 338 deaths since Covid hit our shores in 2020. The majority had occurred during the current Omicron outbreak and modelling and health experts expect more people to lose their lives from the virus this month.

According to Ministry of Health data, last week was the deadliest seven-day period of the outbreak with 84 deaths.

Since Monday, reported deaths had already hit 81 with the likelihood the grim tally would surpass this and record a new deadly weekly high.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the number of deaths in New Zealand linked to Covid-19 was rising sadly – and the total number of deaths per million people was 59.

Of yesterday’s 22 reported Covid-related deaths, one was from Northland, 10 were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from the Lakes DHB, two were from the Wellington region and four were from Canterbury.

Two people who died were in their 50s, four people were in their 60s, three people were in their 70s, six in their 80s and seven were aged over 90.

Just over 101,500 people had Covid in the community, with the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases sitting at 14,515.

There were 830 people in hospital with 26 in intensive care.

Different pattern

Bloomfield said it appeared there was a different pattern emerging this outbreak in the main metropolitan centres compared with the regions.

In Auckland, Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs, which are confined to the cities, the outbreak went up quite quickly, peaked and was coming down quite quickly, he said.

In the regions, the outbreak was developing more slowly and there was a more sustained peak.

There was also a pattern of lower hospitalisations rates in the regions. Tairāwhiti, for example, had the highest case rate in the country over the past two weeks, but had only ever had a handful of hospitalisations.

On Monday, Cabinet will be deciding whether to shift the country – or select regions – from red to orange settings, which will increase the number of people who can gather indoors.

In recent days Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins indicated he was yet to have “a firm leaning” for Monday’s review of traffic light settings.

“We’ll be following closely the public health advice we get over the weekend.”

The main difference between red and orange was the size of indoor gatherings, he said. There is no limit under orange.

“The main thing we’re all looking for is where we’re at in terms of the overall peak.”

In some parts of the country, case numbers were continuing to trend up, he said.

He wouldn’t be drawn on Auckland’s chances of moving to orange, having already passed its Omicron peak.

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