Two more people with Covid-19 have died, the Ministry of Health has confirmed. Of these people, one death occurred in the Southern DHB and one in Capital and Coast. Both people, one man and one woman, were aged over 70.
There are now 960 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 22 people now in intensive care. In the Northern region, 559 people are in hospital with 40% of those aged 70 or over. The average age of hospitalised cases is 58.
The nationwide Covid-19 outbreak has grown by 21,616 new cases. “Today’s case number is higher than yesterday’s number however it’s not unexpected to see variability,” said the Ministry of Health. “It’s also not unusual to have a lower number of tests on a weekend compared to the number of tests on a weekday and this can have a follow on impact for cases identified. The three day rolling average of community cases is currently 17,136 and the seven day rolling average is 19,226.”
Speaking from the ministry, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the BA2 variant of omicron now made up 75 to 80% of cases that have been genomically sequenced. “This sub-variant… is about 30% more transmissible even than the BA1 sub-variant,” he said. This could actually help us in New Zealand, said Bloomfield, as it could mean we avoid a big second peak of omicron cases. Most overseas countries experiencing a second omicron wave were seeing a prevalence of the BA2 variant, Bloomfield added.
On the question of whether people are in hospital with Covid or because of Covid, Bloomfield said that between March 2 and 11 at Waikato Hospital, 19% of hospitalised cases with the virus were being treated for Covid-related symptoms.
36% were admitted for other medical care, some of whose underlying conditions may have been exacerbated by Covid; 23% were on surgical wards for reasons other than Covid; 7% were being looked after by the obstetrics and gynaecology department; and 15% were children in the paediatric ward, some of whom where there because of Covid, and some for other reasons.
That means at least a third of people happened to have Covid but were not in hospital because of Covid.
Data from the northern region on March 8 showed just 16% of people admitted to hospital for Covid had had their booster shot. “It’s really, really clear that a booster protects people from being hospitalised,” said Bloomfield.
On the rise of cases in Wellington, Bloomfield said there was a “full on” the outbreak in the capital. He said it was similar to the increase in cases seen in Auckland. The DHB with the highest per capita case rate currently is Tairāwhiti.