Aged patients faring well

Seven Covid-related deaths have been reported in the South over the past three days, but the head of the Southern Covid-19 response says the vast majority of people dying with the disease in the region have had other serious health concerns.

The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 7347 new community cases and 24 deaths nationally, including three more deaths in the South.

There were two deaths reported in the South on Thursday and two on Wednesday.

Yesterday’s reported deaths could date back as far as April 6, the ministry said, as it continued to announce deaths when Covid was discovered after the person had died.

Southern District Health Board head of Covid-19 response Dr Hywel Lloyd said it was good news the number of deaths in the South was low, but that meant there could be fluctuations in the numbers, such as the recent increase.

It was also very difficult to draw conclusions, or identify trends, with such a small number, Dr Lloyd said.

He did not have the exact number of deaths in the South on hand yesterday, but he said when staff last week reviewed the deaths "the vast, vast majority had significant comorbidities".

Covid-19 was now circulating among more vulnerable age groups, case numbers were increasing in those aged over 65, and aged-care facilities had been hard hit of late.

The number of infected aged-care residents across the region shot up from just over over 20 cases on April 6 to nearly 180 residents infected in about two weeks.

All 65 aged-care facilities in the South had staff who had tested positive and 49% had reported Covid-19-positive residents.

At present, only 25% of aged-care facilities had active cases and the considerable increase in cases appeared to be easing.

"What has been amazing to see is actually how well the aged residential care facility residents have fared," Dr Lloyd told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"That’s actually probably the biggest thing that has given me great comfort — and the staff of the rest-homes."

Vaccinations had "absolutely, no doubt" saved residents’ lives, he said.

The Southern DHB yesterday reported 721 new positive cases in the South.

There were 31 people in hospital: nine in Southland, one in Dunstan, one in Maniototo, and 20 in Dunedin, including one in intensive care.

Nationally, the ministry said there were 363 people in hospital with the disease, 18 in intensive care.



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