29 Covid-related deaths, 7441 cases - only half of infections reported

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 13 May 2022, 12:28pm

29 Covid-related deaths, 7441 cases - only half of infections reported

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 13 May 2022, 12:28pm

There are 7441 new Covid cases in the community today and 29 virus-related deaths reported.

Of those who died two people were aged in their 20s, three in their 30s, three in their 50s, four in their 60s, six in their 70s, three in their 80s and eight over the age of 90.

There are 398 people in hospital with the virus, including six in intensive care.

Today's update is provided by director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who is hosting his first press conference in more than a month.

Bloomfield said it was believed half of the actual cases out there were being reported - and some cases that weren't being reported could be because people didn't have symptoms, so weren't testing.

It seemed the country had probably reached the bottoming out of cases and hospitalisations from this outbreak, and that we may be on the way back up, he said.

There was a risk that some people could be reinfected with Covid within 90 days of catching the virus.

What we were really looking at was if the new subvariants were likely to cause reinfection, he said.

"Get that booster if you haven't had it, as soon as possible," Bloomfield said, while urging people to wear masks and say home if they were sick.

On international developments, cases were starting to rise again in North America.

The B.A.2.12.1 sub variant was driving up case numbers and made up 40 per cent of infections, he said.

Britain and Australia had experienced two distinct Omicron outbreaks - and each one had caused quite a significant increase in cases, Bloomfield said.

Winter flu risk

Bloomfield said health authorities had been anticipating and planning for concurrent infections of influenza.

He encouraged people to get a flu jab this winter and noted that mask use protected people from both Covid and the flu.

Today's case numbers

The ministry said the 29 deaths reported today included 14 people who had died in the previous two days, and an additional 15 people who died between March 24 and May 7.

"These deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 940 and the 7-day rolling average of reported deaths is 14," said the ministry.

The national breakdown of those who had died were: six were from Auckland; one from Waikato, one from Taranaki, one from Tairawhiti, two from Hawkes Bay, two from Bay of Plenty, one from Whanganui, four from the Greater Wellington region, one from Nelson Marlborough, six from Canterbury, and four from Southern.

Today's seven-day rolling average of community case numbers was 7548 – slightly lower than last Friday when it was 7555.

The spread of the 398 cases in hospital across New Zealand was: Northland: 6; Waitemata: 52; Counties Manukau: 31; Auckland: 100; Waikato: 39; Bay of Plenty: 11; Lakes: 4; Tairāwhiti: 0; Hawke's Bay: 11; Taranaki: 10; Whanganui: 1; MidCentral: 20; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 9; Capital and Coast: 14; Nelson Marlborough: 7; Canterbury: 54; South Canterbury: 3; West Coast: 4; and Southern: 21.

The ministry said the average age of those in hospital was 59.

The location of new community cases across New Zealand was: Northland (224), Auckland (2,503), Waikato (531), Bay of Plenty (220), Lakes (105), Hawke's Bay (218), MidCentral (240), Whanganui (56), Taranaki (202), Tairāwhiti (61), Wairarapa (100), Capital and Coast (457), Hutt Valley (182), Nelson Marlborough (252), Canterbury (1,110), South Canterbury (154), Southern (742), West Coast (80), and Unknown (4).

There were currently 52,826 active cases.

A further 78 cases had been detected at the border, said the ministry.

On today's number of deaths, 14 had been found through a reconciliation of the deaths database, Bloomfield said.

The rolling seven-day average was an important number as the numbers could fluctuate.

The number of deaths reported each day did fluctuate, he said.

The Northern region cases rates had been creeping up recently, he said. But there hadn't been an increase in wastewater detections, Bloomfield said.

In March, Bloomfield commissioned a review to look at the backlog of PCR testing.

The review and the Ministry of Health's response to it would be released in early June.

Today's press conference is the first time in a number of weeks a government official or minister has taken the podium since daily Covid press conferences were put on hold in April in favour of statements.

Today's update comes as experts suspect a big upswing in Auckland Omicron cases could be the start of a national climb to a new Covid-19 normal.

At the same time, efforts are being made to vaccinate as many people as possible against the seasonal flu, with health officials bracing for its arrival for the first time in more than two years as New Zealand's border reopens to the world.

Yesterday there were 9392 new community cases, with 52,722 active cases in the past seven days.

The nation's Covid death toll continued to climb with nine new deaths. There have now been 911 people who have died with or from Covid since the outbreak began in March 2020.

Meanwhile, a clear trend observed in our biggest city, where cases have jumped by 50 per cent in a few weeks, is being seen as a shift to higher levels of infection across the country.

Since falling from an early March peak of 13,252 new cases, the combined seven-day rolling average across Auckland's three DHBs fell to less than 1600 in mid-April.

By the start of this week, that average was approaching the 2500 mark. A total of 3388 new cases were reported on Thursday.

"If we look at the whole Northern region, which is Auckland plus Northland, that average ducked under 2000 at its lowest point, around Easter – and it's gradually crept up to around 2700 over the last three weeks," Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said.

"Auckland and Waitematā seem to have a stronger rebound in cases than Counties -Manukau, which we know had a very high infection rate earlier in the year, so there's likely a bit more immunity built up in that part of the population."

The northern region's daily rolling case average could climb to more than 3000 in the coming weeks, as the virus continued working its way through communities.

With the prospect of more infections in new pockets including older age groups the ministry is ramping up efforts to get people vaccinated for the flu. As the temperature drops and the border reopens health officials are expecting the flu to adversely affect vulnerable communities.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced it would be publishing statistics on flu vaccine uptake across the country in the coming months with 91,950 flu vaccines administered across New Zealand in the past week.

Last month, Bloomfield, who has been the public health face of the pandemic response since daily update press conferences started in March 2020, announced he would be ending his job on July 29.

An acting director general will be appointed before he finishes.