The number of Covid-related hospitalisations has risen to 562, with 11 people now in intensive care – an increase of four. Over 380 of those in hospital are in Auckland, with 186 in Middlemore Hospital alone.
The number of new cases has slightly dropped from yesterday, with 22,527 reported nationwide today.
During a press conference today hosted by health officials from the Northland and Auckland DHBs, the number of new cases was reported as being eight higher: 22,535.
The daily case numbers have remained fairly consistent the past few days, particularly in Auckland. On Wednesday, Auckland registered 13,231 new cases, with 13,237 yesterday and 13,252 today. It’s possible, suggested Dr Andrew Old at today’s press conference, that Auckland may be turning a corner in the omicron outbreak.
“We certainly are expecting hospitalisations to go up from where they are now but if we are genuinely turning the corner with cases, we hope that hospitalisations might peak in the next week before starting to come down as well,” he said.
Five people with Covid-19 have died
Five people have died with Covid-19 overnight, making today one of the deadliest days of the pandemic. However, the Ministry of Health said all of them had unrelated medical conditions.
These include a patient at Tauranga Hospital who was in hospital for an unrelated condition, a patient at Waikato Hospital who died of an unrelated medical condition, a person in Dunedin who died of an unrelated medical condition while receiving palliative care, and two patients with Covid-19 in Middlemore Hospital – both people had unrelated medical conditions.
Dr Anthony Jordan, one of the health officials at today’s press conference, confirmed that as hospital number rise, the number of Covid wards per hospital will be extended from one or two to three or four. “We’ll see that happening a lot more because people will need to come to hospital for other reasons,” he said.
It was important to keep track of the numbers of people coming into hospital “with” Covid versus those coming into hospital “because” of Covid. “It hasn’t really exceeded our expectations at this stage for Covid-related sickness,” he said.
High demand for rapid tests
More than 130,000 orders were placed through the new RAT requester site for free rapid antigen tests yesterday, covering more than half a million people – or about two million tests. “The ministry wants to reassure people that we have enough RATs to help New Zealand through a widespread omicron outbreak in the coming months,” said a spokesperson.
“Over the past week, 8.8 million million RATs have been distributed. Over the weekend, another eight million are expected to arrive in the country with another 99 million confirmed for delivery this month.”
The priority for free RATs remains those who are symptomatic or a household contact, reminded the ministry. “Please do not order or request RATs from testing centre or collections sites unless you are unwell or a household contact.” International travel requirements are not covered the free testing scheme.
Yesterday, there were 15,195 booster doses administered.