A patient in their 50s has died from Covid, 62 community cases

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Dec 2021, 1:04PM
Christmas shopping during a pandemic means Santa hats paired with face masks. (Photo / Alex Burton)
Christmas shopping during a pandemic means Santa hats paired with face masks. (Photo / Alex Burton)

A patient in their 50s has died from Covid, 62 community cases

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 24 Dec 2021, 1:04PM

A patient in their 50s has died of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health has confirmed. 

The patient, who was admitted to North Shore Hospital on December 11, becomes New Zealand's 49th death from the disease. 

As the country heads into a second festive season in the shadow of the global pandemic, there are 62 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, 45 people are in hospital including eight in ICU. 

Cases of the Delta variant, which sparked a months-long lockdown in Auckland in August, have fallen sharply in recent weeks - new community cases were at 56 yesterday, most in Auckland, compared to more than 200 a day just over a month ago. 

But fears remain of the newest Covid-19 variant - Omicron - taking hold should the virus slip past MIQ defences. 

There were six new cases of Omicron in managed isolation and quarantine yesterday, among 28 detected in New Zealand so far - all in isolation. 

The highly-infectious variant has been spreading rapidly overseas, with surges in cases numbers since it was first detected, including in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Experts have said the variant may not cause as much serious illness at the Delta variant, but due to the lag in serious illness and death it was still too soon to be sure. 

Even if the variant was milder than Delta there are fears hospitals could be overwhelmed simply because so many more people are being infected. 

The Government this week delayed the planned January quarantine-free border opening with Australia till at least the end of February, and brought forward eligibility for booster vaccination shots by two months - thought to offer much-improved immunity against Omicron than the two shots more than 91 per cent of eligible Kiwis have already received. 

As of January 5 anyone aged over 18 who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least four months ago can get their booster. 

Vaccinations are also being opened up for children aged between 5 and 11 from January 17. 

While all the South Island and parts of the North Island are in the orange traffic light setting, Auckland and a swathe of the central part of the North Island from Whanganui to Gisborne districts switch from the strictest red light setting to orange at 11.59pm on December 30. 

Northland, which has the country's lowest vaccination rates at 83 per cent double-jabbed, will remain in the red light setting - which like orange restricts some activities to the vaccinated only, but also has capacity limits to stop super spreader events - until at least January 17.