Southern death toll 50

A grim milestone was reached in the South yesterday as the region registered its 50th Covid-19 death since the start of the pandemic.

Ministry of Health figures released yesterday revealed the Southern District Health Board catchment reached the half century figure, becoming the seventh of the country’s 20 district health boards to cross the 50 deaths mark.

The national Covid-19 death toll was now at 937.

University of Canterbury Covid-19 modeller Prof Michael Plank said while deaths in the Delta outbreak had primarily been concentrated in Auckland, the majority of Covid-19 deaths in New Zealand had occurred as part of the Omicron outbreak and had been distributed across New Zealand.

Although cases and deaths might slowly decline, there was still a chance for a second wave to hit the country in the coming months.

"One of the things the modelling shows is that, with immunity likely to wane over time, that creates the potential of people being reinfected for a second time, and that could possibly cause a second wave sometime during winter or spring."

The impact of a second wave on the country’s death rate would depend on the age of the people infected.

"If a second wave has an increasing number of infections in those older age groups, that’s really one of the factors that could potentially contribute to a large number of deaths."

Southern District Health Board figures showed 781 new cases in the region yesterday, contributing to a total of 4885 active cases in the South.

Most of the new cases were in Dunedin, which had 352 new infections, while Invercargill had 123 and Queenstown Lakes 99.

Central Otago, Southland and Gore districts had 49, 46 and 44 new cases respectively, while Waitaki (39) and Clutha (29) had the fewest new cases.

Nationally, there were 9906 new cases yesterday in a total of 55,042 active cases around the country.