49 Covid-related deaths, 6152 new cases reported

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Aug 2022, 11:46am

49 Covid-related deaths, 6152 new cases reported

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Aug 2022, 11:46am

There are 6152 new cases of Covid 19 reported today and 49 virus-related deaths.

The Ministry of Health also reported that 663 people are in hospital with 14 in ICU.

Case rates are starting to trend down, dropping 18 per cent in the past week.

Healthcare worker testing and wastewater results showed a "true decline" in Covid cases, said Dr Andrew Old, head of the Public Health Agency.

Deaths and hospitalisations tend to lag case numbers, so in the same week case numbers dropped, hospitalisations increased 35 per cent.

This is the fifth week in a row that rate has increased. Hospitals remain under significant pressure.

The latest modeling shows we are tracking at the lower end of BA5 for winter, Old said.

It suggests New Zealand has reached a peak slightly earlier than expected. We could still reach 1000 occupied beds in hospital but we are tracking closer to 800.

On vaccination data, there would be an improvement on how it was reported. Now 233,000 people would be added to the dataset.

The HSU dataset was based on those using health services over a 12-month period. They were replacing the previous 2020 dataset with those that used health services in 2021.

It made no difference to the number of people vaccinated.

The updated dataset had 233,000 more people in it. Using that new figure the overall double vaccination rate for over 12s drops from 95 to 90 per cent and for Māori 88 to 83 per cent.

Stats NZ had reviewed and endorsed the dataset and it would be updated every six months.

Monkeypox in New Zealand

Nick Chamberlain, National Director of Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand's National Public Health Service, said a third case of monkeypox this week was doing well. The other two had recovered.

There were no links between the cases and no indication of community transmission.

The main methods of transmission remained skin-on-skin contact including sexual activity.

All three cases had been infected overseas.

People travelling needed to take caution, particularly practising safe sex.

The monkeypox vaccine is manufactured by one company and in high demand. The ministry was developing a plan for the vaccine.

Vaccination was important but not the only tool, Chamberlain said.

On the risk to New Zealanders from monkeypox, he said it was still low "very low".

There would be more cases imported and at some stage, there would be community transmission.

This was based on what was happening overseas.

Chamberlain said from the moment of the first case, there were discussions with Pharmac to procure the vaccine but there was still no guaranteed supply.

A large number of countries were trying to get the vaccines.

Asked about claims the Ministry was too slow on ordering Covid vaccines and if it was now too slow again, Chamberlain said he disagreed and that New Zealand had been "as fast as anyone".

Old said although there was a strong focus on vaccines and anti-virals, that was a narrow approach.

There was a good chance here with no community transmission to get ahead of any outbreak, including designing appropriate health messaging, he said.

Chamberlain said if they could they'd take 20,000 doses.

There would not be large amounts of vaccines, and it would not be done in a similar way to the Covid rollout. It would likely be distributed in sexual health clinics.

Meanwhile, Statistics NZ has been reviewing the Ministry of Health's use of the Health Service Utilisation 2020 dataset to calculate vaccination rates.

It will report on the difference between the HSU 2020 and its own data and is expected to show vaccination rates are lower than those trumpeted by the Government.

HSU 2020 is considered flawed as it counts those who engaged with the health system during 2020. It was known Māori did so less regularly and when doing so sometimes identified as another ethnicity.

The Herald reported on this inaccuracy in September last year, revealing more than 70,000 people who identify as Māori in Census-based population estimates are not recorded with this ethnicity in the internal database it uses to measure vaccination rollout equity.

The ministry was not using Census population data as the basis for its population estimates. Instead, officials relied on their internal Health Service Utilisation (HSU) database.

This dataset, used only by the Ministry of Health, includes all individuals enrolled with a primary health organisation (PHO), or who have used other health services such as hospital admissions, the emergency department, or filled a prescription, during a calendar year.

However, comparing the current Māori population projections from the 2018 Census to the HSU database for the eligible vaccination rollout (12 and over), there are just over 12 per cent - 73,889 - fewer Māori. The group classed as European/Other is larger in the HSU database than in the Census estimates by nearly the same amount.

Herald investigation this year also found there were two independent academic projects under way to assess whether Māori lives were needlessly lost to Covid-19 as a result.

A dataset designed by researcher Dr Rawiri Taonui - whose expertise included indigenous human rights and racism - found Māori only reached the 90 per cent target for vaccination in Auckland and Canterbury district health boards.

In the other 18 DHBs, Māori had yet to hit the 90 per cent figure needed to provide good protection against Covid-19.

Another analysis in June found if Census data was used instead of HSU, the proportion of vaccinated Pacific females older than 25 would have risen by 6.3 per cent.

But at the same time, and more worryingly, the proportion of vaccinated Māori over 25 would have fallen by 5 per cent for females – and 12 per cent for males.

The ministry will also report on the latest Covid-19 outbreak figures and winter illness situation.

On Wednesday there were 6440 new Covid community cases reported, with 704 people in hospital.

There were 28 virus-related deaths reported in the Ministry of Health's latest daily update.

The seven-day rolling average of cases is 6355. Last Wednesday, it was 8111.

After today's update, there have been 1589 deaths confirmed to date as attributable to Covid-19 in New Zealand, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

In the past seven days, there has been an average of 22 deaths confirmed each day as being attributable to the virus.