29 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Southern DHB has most Covid-19 cases per head of population

12:46 pm on 29 March 2020

First published on Otago Daily Times

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Southern District Health Board area has risen to 59, making it the region with the most cases per head of population in the country.

Dunedin Hospital

Photo: ODT

The region is second behind the Auckland DHB in total cases, but covers a significantly lower population.

The SDHB is based in Dunedin, and covers the bottom of the South Island, including Fiordland, Queenstown, Oamaru and Invercargill and covers a total population of over 329,000 people.

There are 17.9 cases per 100,000 people in the area, Capital and Coast have the second highest ratio of cases at 14.1, followed by Waikato at 13.8. Auckland has 11.7.

Yesterday's rise of 20 new cases in the South came on a day when 83 new cases were announced across the country.

The national total is made up of 78 confirmed cases and five probable cases, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black said.

She said 50 people had recovered, and 12 were in hospital around the country - including one case in Dunedin Hospital.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Central Otago Health Services confirmed yesterday they had one positive Covid-19 patient admitted to Dunstan Hospital for a short period who was later transferred by St John to Dunedin Hospital on Friday.

Two people were in intensive care - one on a ventilator. Both were in a critical condition but for privacy reasons she would not give further details of those cases.

The Ministry of Health website shows all but one of the Southern cases as being confirmed, with just one probable.

The SDHB area includes roughly 6.7 percent of New Zealand's population, but has about 13.1 percent of the total number of Covid-19 cases.

This means that Otago and Southland has almost double the national average rate of Covid-19 per head of population.

A major reason for this is the World Hereford Conference held in Queenstown, which has now been linked to 18 confirmed and one probable New Zealand case.

Many of those tested positive in the Southern district.

Two people who attended the conference also tested positive after leaving New Zealand.

The conference is one of a small number of New Zealand clusters of Covid-19 cases, which also include Marist College in Auckland, a travel group to the United States, a rest home in Hamilton and a wedding in Wellington.

A joint statement from Ministry of Health, Southern District Health Board and Canterbury District Health Board said 840 close contacts linked to the conference have been identified, 583 of whom have been tracked.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said he was "shocked and saddened" by the significant number of new cases.

"The effect that can have in our small local community is heart-breaking," he said in a statement.

"Firstly, my thoughts and sincere best wishes go out to everyone who is directly affected and your friends, whānau and support network. I can only imagine how worrying it must be to see your loved ones struggling with the effects of this virus.

"Whilst the majority of cases can still be connected to overseas travel, there is continued concern over the risk of community transmission and cases unrelated to travel.

"Do not put your friends, neighbours, whānau and your local community in further danger by ignoring the instructions from Central Government. Do the right thing and play your part in keeping us all safe," he added.

This story originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times