Massive spike in Covid cases; five further deaths

There are 12,011 new community Covid cases in New Zealand today, including 867 in the southern region.

There have also been five further deaths linked to the virus.

The number is almost double yesterday's previous record tally of 6137, as the Omicron outbreak surges across the country.

The Ministry of Health said in its statement today that the rise in cases was not unexpected given the ongoing spread of Omicron and wider testing achieved from the combined use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) and PCR.

The ministry says there are now 2802 active cases in the southern region.

There are 237 people in hospital with the virus today, three  in ICU. There are three people in hospital in the southern region. They are the first hospitalised Covid cases in the Southern DHB area since two mariners from a container ship in Bluff were assessed in Southland Hospital in July last year.

The five deaths reported today were in North Shore Hospital (2), Waikato (2) and Tauranga (1). They take the country's total in the pandemic to 61.

More than 8200 of the new cases were confirmed by RATs, the ministry said.

 - Location of new community cases (PCR): Northland (46), Auckland (1,565), Waikato (388), Bay of Plenty (279), Lakes (23), Hawke’s Bay (54), MidCentral (112), Whanganui (13), Taranaki (37), Tairāwhiti (34), Wairarapa (10), Capital and Coast (182), Hutt Valley (85), Nelson Marlborough (79), Canterbury (355), South Canterbury (13), Southern (524), West Coast (6); Unknown (1).

 - Location of new community cases (RAT): Northland (87), Auckland (6,403), Waikato (544), Bay of Plenty (338), Lakes (140), Hawke’s Bay (40), MidCentral (41), Whanganui (5), Taranaki (11), Tairāwhiti (18), Wairarapa (4), Capital and Coast (77), Hutt Valley (20), Nelson Marlborough (23), Canterbury (114), South Canterbury (5), Southern (343), West Coast (3); Unknown (7).

There were also 19 cases at the border reported today.

The ministry said the case numbers and number of people in hospital were another reminder that vaccination is the best defence against the virus. There were 25,461 booster doses given yesterday, as well as 523 first doses, 1101 second doses, 179 third primary doses, 1657 paediatric first doses and 178 paediatric second doses.

Today's numbers come on the day New Zealand moved into phase 3 of its response, under which only confirmed cases and household contacts of a confirmed case will need to isolate for 10 days.

A disparity between the new isolation rules and the border rules announced earlier this month has been flagged by Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield.

Despite isolation requirements changing, people travelling under the new border rules from February 27 would get to skip MIQ but would still need to self-isolate.

Bloomfield has advised the Government of the matter.

A PCR test will also no longer be required to verify a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result - and RATs will be available across the country from testing sites, GPs, pharmacies and within workplaces. People will be able to self-report their positive results and notify contacts. It is expected RATs will be available in these places from sometime in March.

RATs will be free to those who require them for testing, and available for purchase for about $8 to $10.

 * The Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO.

 - ODT Online/RNZ

 

 

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