Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Today’s numbers as hospital cases jump; Masks, boosters key to halt virus spread

New Zealand

David Seymour has announced that Act will hold an inquiry into the country’s Covid-19 response. Video / Mark Mitchell

There are 8395 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

The Ministry of Health reported a further 17 Covid-related deaths.

Today’s reported deaths include one from Northland, seven were from Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Taranaki, one was from South Canterbury, three were from Capital & Coast/Hutt and one was from Canterbury/West Coast.

Five were aged in their 70s, five were in their 80s and seven were aged over 90. Of these people, 10 were women and seven were men. All 17 deaths occurred in the past 13 days.

There are 689 people in hospital with the virus, including 13 in intensive care.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 9279 – up from 7053 at this time last week.

Yesterday there were 662 people fighting the virus in hospital, with 13 in intensive care, which health officials warned was a “significant increase”. Hospitalisation numbers had risen by nearly 80 since Friday.

These figures were nearing the record levels seen back in March, when there were 1000 people fighting Covid-19 in hospital. Those numbers were dropping steadily to about 300 last month but have since shot back up.

There were 7461 community cases recorded yesterday and eight deaths reported yesterday. The seven-day rolling average was 8690.

Auckland University immunologist Anna Brook said this was alarming and the country was now at the most precarious point in the pandemic for New Zealand so far.

“I think it’s not unexpected that human behaviours are now creeping in, we are all sick of this pandemic, we don’t want to be restricted, we want to get back to normal life, but just wanting it to go away is not going to make it go away.”

Brooks has urged Kiwis to keep up the fight against virus by wearing masks.

She also wanted the second booster shot to be made more widely available to help stop the virus’ spread.

“We just need to come together as a country and say, ‘Let’s do this, let’s get through winter. Mask up.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today she anticipated a “tough winter”, with Covid cases spiking and winter illnesses putting pressure on the health system.

She said she has never stopped caring about Covid and has never stopped receiving the case numbers.

The increase in cases was predicted and is also being seen all over the world.

“We anticipated we would have additional variants, and winter would be difficult … in the UK and Europe they are also seeing an increase of cases of up to 30 per cent, and that’s at a time without winter, so they are looking to us to see what to expect,” Ardern told TVNZ.

New Zealand had a raft of measures other countries did not have – for example, mandatory mask wearing and both positive cases and their household contacts isolating if they were sick.

However, that only worked if people played ball, she said.

“Not everyone is following through on those.”

Ardern reminded people that even if they have caught Covid they can catch it again and urged anyone symptomatic to take a test.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health said there had been a significant increase in the number of Covid-related hospitalisations this weekend.

“We know there will also be increased demand for primary and community care services as Covid-19 cases increase,” the ministry said.