South’s virus death toll fourth-highest in country

Six more southerners who had Covid-19 have died, elevating Otago and Southland to fourth-highest in the regional toll of pandemic deaths.

The six cases, out of 33 new deaths reported yesterday by the Ministry of Health, are yet to be confirmed as having been because of Covid-19.

However, they provisionally moved Southern (136) past Counties Manukau (130) for Covid-related deaths: only Canterbury (217), Waitemata (175) and Waikato (157) have more fatalities.

Of 7113 new Covid-19 cases reported in New Zealand yesterday, 562 were in the South.

The number of active cases continues to fall across Otago and Southland, down to 3663 yesterday; on Friday, 4298 people in the region had Covid-19.

Cases in seven of the eight districts monitored by Te Whatu Ora Southern fell in the past five days, in some places substantially so.

In Dunedin active cases dropped by 17%, from 1917 to 1585, while in both Queenstown (from 560 to 481) and Waitaki (220 to 141) cases fell by 79 apiece.

Active cases in Invercargill fell from 773 to 719, while Central Otago, Southland and Clutha all reported small drops.

The sole district to buck the trend was Gore, where active cases rose to 103, from 75 late last week.

While official numbers are showing an encouraging trend, wastewater testing has consistently suggested Covid-19 cases are being under-reported, significantly so in some places.

The number of people in the South in hospital who have Covid-19 has also fallen, from 39 on Monday to 36 yesterday.

Of those, 22 were in Dunedin Hospital (one in intensive care), 11 in Southland, two in Dunstan and one in Maniototo.

Southland Hospital’s assessment, treatment and rehabilitation ward, which was closed to all but compassionate visitors after Covid and influenza exposure events, remained sealed off yesterday.

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