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Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Today’s case numbers, community transmission and hospitalisations at lowest rates since February

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Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand could soon be a thing of the past as Cabinet plans to meet on Monday to decide whether the traffic light system stays or goes.

This comes as the country’s cases and hospitalisations are at the lowest rates they have been since February.

Today’s case numbers will be revealed in a statement from the Ministry of Health at 1pm.

Yesterday there 1793 new cases in the community and a further six deaths were reported.

There were 260 people in hospital with the virus, including five in intensive care.

Ministry of Health deputy director-general Dr Andrew Old said in a press conference on Wednesday that the seven-day rolling average of cases continues to drop, down 27 per cent from a week ago, and hospitalisations are down 29 per cent.

The latest evidence shows “real and sustained evidence of Covid-19 declining in our community,” he said.

The number of deaths for people with Covid-19 was also declining, Old said.

“Although those trends are really encouraging it’s important to remember that every death related to Covid-19 is heartbreaking,” Old said.

Meanwhile, the Government will decide on Monday whether to scrap the whole traffic light system and other Covid-19 orders.

Getting rid of the system would mean the remaining restrictions such as mask mandates.

If it goes ahead, it would come into effect as soon as next Wednesday – when the main legal instrument under which the Covid-19 orders are issued will expire if Cabinet decides not to renew it.

That Epidemic Preparedness (Covid-19) Notice 2020 is one of the over-arching legal instruments under which the Government and health authorities have exercised special powers in the Covid-19 response: including the traffic light system. If not renewed, all orders associated with it will also lapse.

The notice has been renewed every three months since it was put in place in March 2020 and requires the Prime Minister to state she is satisfied the effects of the outbreak are likely to continue to disrupt essential governmental and business activity in New Zealand “significantly”.

That decision is based on consultation with the Minister of Health and the director-general of health. It is understood Cabinet was still getting some advice from health officials, but the recommendation to Cabinet is that it could end.

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