Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 14,494 new community cases and 8 deaths; 896 in hospital, with 18 in ICU

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There are 14,494 new community cases of Covid-19, and eight people have died – the highest daily toll in this country since the pandemic began, the Ministry of Health says.

There are now 896 people in hospital, with 18 of them in intensive care.

Six of the eight Covid-related deaths were in Auckland, one in Waikato, and one in Lakes. Two of those who died were men and six were women. Three were aged in their 60s, one in their 70s, one in their 80s and three in their 90s.

That brings the total number of Covid-related deaths in the pandemic to 113.

“At this sad time, our thoughts are with the whanau and friends of all those who have died,” the Ministry said.

“Out of respect for affected families, we will be making no further comment.”

Today’s case numbers have continued to fall, with the biggest drop in Auckland. Reported case numbers fell steadily this week from just under 10,000 reported cases on March 8 to 4509 today.

However, the Ministry said the seven-day rolling average is 19,771, which is only slightly down on yesterday.

Outside Auckland, the new cases were in Northland (440), Waikato (1,420), Bay of Plenty (931), Lakes (394), Hawke’s Bay (597), MidCentral (472), Whanganui (137), Taranaki (355), Tairāwhiti (289), Wairarapa (105), Capital and Coast (1,141), Hutt Valley (845), Nelson Marlborough (376), Canterbury (1,664), South Canterbury (93), Southern (703), and West Coast (18).

The location of five cases was unknown.

Twenty-two new cases were also found at the border.

There are currently 197,251 active cases of Covid in the community – meaning cases identified in the past 10 days and not yet classified as recovered.

There are 896 people in hospital, including in Northland (19), North Shore (174), Middlemore (214), Auckland (207), Waikato (78), Bay of Plenty (34), Lakes (11), Tairāwhiti (3), Hawke’s Bay (24), Taranaki (8), MidCentral (19), Hutt Valley (16), Capital and Coast (36), Wairarapa (7), Nelson Marlborough (5), Canterbury (26) and Southern (15). There are no hospitalisations in Whanganui.

The average age of those in hospital is 57.

Of those in hospital in the Northern region, 104 (19 per cent) are unvaccinated or ineligible, 17 (three per cent) are only partly immunised, 210 (38 per cent) are double vaccinated and 168 (30 per cent) are boosted.

The vaccination status of another 57 cases is unknown.

Unvaccinated people over 12 were five times overrepresented in those figures, the Ministry said.

They made up just over three per cent of the Northern region population, but were 15.6 per cent of those in hospital.

The Ministry thanked those who had reported their RAT test online – both positive and negative. Yesterday 33,286 test results were reported, of which 14,047 were positive.

Another 447 cases were identified by PCR testing. There were 3,186 PCR tests in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday 7689 people got their booster dose, 454 got their second dose and 162 got their first, the ministry said.

There were also 1040 children aged 5-11 who got their first dose, and 861 who had their second.

Of the eligible population aged over 12, 72.8 per cent are boosted. That rate is 59.5 per cent among Māori and 59.9 per cent among Pacific peoples.

Among children aged 5-11, 53.3 per cent have had a first dose of the vaccine, but for Māori children the rate is 33.9 per cent and for Pacific children it’s 46.1 per cent.

Yesterday's numbers

The eight deaths announced today follow the grim milestone of 100 deaths announced on Saturday – with four men and three women having died with the virus.

It was the second day in a row of seven deaths.

The ministry said it was another reminder that the Omicron variant could still cause serious illness or death – either directly, or by its impact on other health conditions.

“Getting vaccinated and boosted will help to keep you out of hospital if you catch Covid-19 and could save your life.”

On Saturday there were 853 people in hospital with the virus, with an average age of 59. Seventeen of those people were in intensive care.

Experts are also increasingly sounding the alarm about Long Covid – the catch-all term for a range of symptoms that can arise weeks or months after a person is infected with the virus.

Those symptoms can affect even people whose original illness was mild. While it’s too early to know whether Omicron’s Long Covid tail will be similar to previous strains of the virus, medical experts say infections should not be treated as trivial.

People should still avoid getting infected if possible and take time to recover if they do get sick.

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