Covid cases trending down; change to way vaccinations are reported

Health officials say daily case rates of Covid-19 are trending downwards in all regions for the second week running, even though hospitalisations are increasing in most places.

The Public Health Agency's Deputy Director-General Dr Andrew Old and Te Whatu Ora-Health New Zealand national director Dr Nick Chamberlain spoke to media this afternoon about New Zealand's Covid response.

There are 6152 new community cases of the virus today and a further 49 people have died with the disease.

There are also 663 people in hospital, including 14 in ICU.

Dr Old says daily case rates are trending downwards in all regions for the second week running, dropping 18 percent in the last week to 31 July.

Case numbers in over 65s has dropped by 21 percent in the last week.

Old said wastewater testing and testing of healthcare workers supported the conclusion that community transmission of Covid-19 was decreasing.

Despite the downwards trend in case numbers, Covid-19 hospitalisation rates rose by 35 percent in the week to 31 July. Old said all regions barring the Northern region had seen its hospitalisation rate increase.

"While hospitalisations are still rising again our expectation is that peak hospitalisation will be at the lower end of what was modelled, while we could still reach 1000 occupied beds we are tracking closer to a peak of 850 occupied beds across the country," he said.

Old says from 8 August, 230,000 people who used health services in 2021 will be formally added to Health Service User data set used to count vaccinations. Replacing 2020 data set with the up to date one.

The total number of people aged over 12 who have had at least two doses of vaccine increased 9.6 percent in the last eight months going from 3.63 million on 1 December 2021 to 3.98 million on 1 August 2022.

Old said the reported vaccination rates would show a drop next week because more people would be counted.

The updated data set would include 233,000 more people in it, he said.

He said health authorities were committed to updating its data set every six months to ensure its reporting as up to date as possible.

The new data set will remove age at vaccination to current age, and also remove the term "fully vaccinated". The definition did not include boosters. A person would be considered "up to date" if they have had all the vaccinations to which they are entitled.

Monkeypox in NZ

Dr Chamberlain said the third case of monkeypox in New Zealand was yesterday validated by ESR and the person was doing well isolating in the South Island.

The first two cases had now recovered and there was no link between the cases, Chamberlain said.

The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 6440 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, and 704 hospitalisations, including 11 in ICU.

Meanwhile, leading health advocates are pleading for bolder action on monkeypox, saying New Zealand could see the same failures as other countries if the government doesn't act now.

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