Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: Record 1573 new cases; Jacinda Ardern says infections her concern, not ‘illegal’ protest

There are a record 1573 new community cases in New Zealand today – 1140 of them in Auckland.

The remaining community cases are in Northland (31), Waikato (143), Bay of Plenty (29), Lakes (35), Hawke’s Bay (2), MidCentral (3), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (8), Tairāwhiti (8), Wairarapa (30), Capital and Coast (20), Hutt Valley (22), Nelson Marlborough (49), Canterbury (7), and the Southern region (35), the Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon.

Sixty-three people are in hospital with Covid-19 – none in intensive care. They are in hospitals in Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga, Waikato, Wellington and Tairāwhiti.

The health ministry provides data on the vaccination status of people in Northern Region hospital wards. Of the 63 people currently in hospital, this applied to 46 patients.

Four cases, or 9 per cent, were either unvaccinated or not eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. Twenty-seven cases, or 59 per cent, were fully vaccinated. The vaccination status of 15 cases was unknown.

The average age of hospital patients with Covid-19 is 62.

Fifteen cases have also been detected at the border.

The seven day rolling average for border cases is now 17, while the seven day rolling average for community cases is 844.

There are now 8147 active community cases in New Zealand in total.

“Every dose counts and lowers the chances of getting very sick and being hospitalised, so if it’s been three months since your last dose, please book your booster today,” the ministry said.

“Since January 22, when the first Omicron case was detected in the community, double vaccinated cases are 10 times less likely to require hospitalisation than unvaccinated cases – 4 per cent of unvaccinated cases have required hospitalisation and 0.4 per cent of fully vaccinated cases have required hospitalisation.”

High demand at testing sites

In the last 24 hours, 32,285 Covid tests have been processed.

The Ministry of Health said testing sites were continuing to see high demand and asked people visiting the sites to be patient.

It was important people only sought a test if they had cold or flu symptoms, have been identified as a close contact, or have been asked to get tested by a health official, the ministry said.

“We understand that some people will be feeling worried or anxious at this time and will want a test for their own reassurance.

“However, unnecessary testing will result in long waits at testing centres and could also delay results for those who urgently need them.”

There are 7.3 million rapid antigen tests available in New Zealand, the ministry said.

Booster, vaccine update

Yesterday, more than 40,000 booster shots were administered. Sixty-two per cent of the population due their booster had now received it.

More than 90 per cent of Māori aged 12 years and over in the Hutt Valley have now been full vaccinated, with the region becoming the fourth DHB area in Aotearoa to achieve this milestone.

Overall, 96 per cent of eligible people in the country, aged 12 and older, have had their first dose, and 95 per cent have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

For eligible Māori aged 12 and older, 91 per cent have received one dose and 87 per cent have had two.

Ninety-eight per cent of eligible Pacific peoples, aged 12 and older, have had their first dose and 95 per cent have received two doses.

Overall, 46 per cent of eligible 5-11-year-olds have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

For Māori children in this age cohort, 27 per cent have had a dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

And for eligible Pacific children, aged 5-11, 37 per cent have had their first dose of the vaccine.

The ministry said the NZ Covid Tracer App was a valuable tool for identifying contacts and locations under phase 2 of the Omicron response plan.

“Keeping a record of where you have been will enable you to quickly identify if you may have been exposed to Covid-19 and quickly contact your contacts if you become a case.

“Keeping Bluetooth enabled also helps to anonymously protect people you’ve been near.”

Neither the Ministry of Health nor any other government agencies had access to the data on people’s phones, the agency said.

This was held by the person themselves unless they agreed to share it with contact tracers or upload it through the contact tracing form.

Focus on outbreak, not protest – PM

The country’s surging Covid cases are the priority for the Government – not the “illegal” actions of protesters at Parliament, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Rotorua earlier today.

The focus needed to be on the “growing pandemic and keeping people safe,” Ardern said.

“What is happening there is illegal,” she said of the protesters.

“I don’t expect it to change quickly, we’re all prepared for it to take some time but despite that, it will not change our force.

“We have a duty to all New Zealanders to focus on the pandemic.”

While the act of protest was not illegal in New Zealand, building camps on Parliament grounds, obstructing children from going to school, blocking roads and harassing people who were wearing masks was behaviour “that is not acceptable”, she said.

Ardern is in Rotorua today to take part in several events, including launching a conservation and restoration project near the city.

Latest locations of interest

A party on Castle St near Otago University, the AJ Hackett Bridge Bungy and Bridge Climb in Auckland and a flight between Queenstown and Auckland are among the latest high-risk locations of interest.

A Queenstown Tex-Mex restaurant and a club as well an Auckland crossfit event have also been added to the growing list as high-risk.

Test positivity rate up

A Herald analysis has shown New Zealand’s positivity rate has moved closer to a World Health Organisation benchmark suggesting widespread outbreak.

Using the latest available case numbers and tests processed, Herald analysis shows the country registered a 4.2 per cent positivity rate on Tuesday, near the 5 per cent threshold set by the WHO at the start of the pandemic.

The rate, according to one expert, is now far higher than at the peak of the Delta outbreak but is still much lower than reported in other countries and regions at the peak of their outbreaks.

Test positivity is the percentage of positive tests amongst total tests taken.

Yesterday there were 1160 new cases in the community, 861 of these were in Auckland, and 43 Covid-19 cases were detected at the border.

There were 56 people in hospital with the virus and none were in ICU or HDU.

Mobile vax drive on hold

Following the surge of cases in Auckland, Te Whānau O Waipareira trust has had to put its mobile vaccination efforts in Northland on hold.

A team of 70 were due to head north this weekend.

Vaccination rates in Northland are at 87.4 per for two doses.

Outbreaks at Starship, school

Meanwhile, there has been an outbreak of Covid-19 at Starship children’s hospital, with 12 positive cases confirmed so far.

The hospital told the Herald today that six staff and six patients had tested positive. The outbreak likely stemmed from a positive case in the general paediatrics ward last week.

The virus also continues to spread throughout schools. Wakatipu High School reported 43 students and staff were isolating after one case was detected at the school.

Source: Read Full Article