Health bosses have urged anyone who has symptoms or has been exposed to someone with Covid-19 to get tested amid fears the reported case number is understated. Photo / Alex Burton
There are 8728 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.
The Ministry of Health reported a further 26 Covid-related deaths.
There are 759 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in intensive care.
As the school holidays finish up, fears have been expressed about a new wave of Covid making its way through the community.
But yesterday the Ministry of Health revealed that confirmed case numbers had dropped to under the 10,000 mark, at 9953.
The ministry also confirmed there were 767 cases in hospital, including 20 people in intensive care.
Those hospitalised with the virus were in Northland (26), Waitematā (84), Counties Manukau (58), Auckland (105), Waikato (70), Bay of Plenty (43), Lakes (21), Hawke’s Bay (33), MidCentral (32), Whanganui (15), Taranaki (14), Tairāwhiti (five), Wairarapa (eight), Capital & Coast (31), Hutt Valley (19), Nelson Marlborough (15), Canterbury (130), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (11) and the Southern region (46).
A further 32 Covid-related deaths were also reported on Thursday: two were in their 60s, six were in their 70s, 11 were in their 80s and 13 were aged over 90.
Seven were from Northland; five were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, three were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Tairāwhiti, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from Taranaki, one was from Wellington region, two were from Nelson Marlborough, two were from Canterbury and six were from the Southern region.
The total number of deaths with Covid-19 reached 1927 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths was 25.
The ministry also revealed that eight deaths formally listed in its overall tally were removed after being assessed as not dying from the virus.
Change to death statistics applauded
Earlier this week the ministry revealed it would now report deaths where the virus was the underlying or contributing cause of death.
It previously recorded all deaths within 28 days of a positive test, plus any death that was attributed to Covid-19 after medical review.
The new reporting system shows the virus was an underlying or contributing factor to somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of deaths after a Covid-19 infection.
Numerous virus experts have since backed the move.
Immunologist and Associate Professor Dianne Sika-Paotonu – University of Otago Wellington – said the changes would provide a more accurate picture of how many deaths were truly related to the virus.
“Previously, Covid-19 associated deaths were reported in the daily Covid-19 updates as all those who’d passed away within 28 days of a Covid-19 infection,” she said.
“Now, additional deaths associated with Covid-19 will continue to be reported in the daily updates, along with the total Covid-19 deaths being categorised based on whether Covid-19 is either the (1) underlying cause or a (2) contributing cause of death, and where these deaths can be wholly, or partly ‘attributed’ to Covid-19. Another category will constitute (3) those deaths still under investigation.”
Sika-Paotonu also spoke of how the ongoing spread of Omicron was continuing to place “added burden and strain” onto families, communities, our vulnerable, schools, workforces and our health and other support systems in Aotearoa New Zealand.
She also reiterated concerns from health officials last week that the actual number of fresh daily cases in New Zealand were “much higher” than those released daily.
“Daily Covid-19 case figures remain high, with hospitalisations continuing to increase and hospitals, primary and community care overwhelmed, and with the actual Covid-19 community case figures likely much higher than those being reported currently.
“With more people having now been exposed to the virus, and with the emergence of the Omicron variant and subvariants, reinfections are increasing in a way not seen with earlier variants.
“Waning immunity, Omicron’s higher transmissibility and ability to evade immune protection are contributing factors. The risk of reinfection remains, especially for vulnerable communities.”