23 Feb 2022

Covid-19: Omicron outbreak peak could reach 4000 cases a day in northern areas - modelling

6:51 am on 23 February 2022

The peak of Covid-19 in the Omicron outbreak in Auckland and Northland could reach 4000 daily cases, if transmission is low, or 9000 if it is not, new modelling shows.

Ōtara testing centre on Wednesday 24 February.

(File image) Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The modelling by Counties Manukau DHB population health director Gary Jackson predicts about 400 cases in hospital in a low transmission scenario.

Last month, Dr Jackson's modelling showed a peak of 1800 cases in the Northern region, with about 190 of these in hospital.

There were 1802 new community cases in Auckland yesterday, and 36 in Northland. There were 128 patients in Auckland's hospitals.

Dr Jackson said this was tracking reasonably well to the low transmission scenario, with the peak expected in mid-March.

However, he said it could be difficult to know the true extent of transmission as testing facilities reached their capacity.

"You're never quite sure whether you are counting all the cases that are appearing, so the 4000 [cases] is kind of an estimate."

Dr Jackson said the lower number would be dependent on people getting their boosters as they became eligible.

"This is the low transmission model so it's assuming that the boosters keep on being delivered. The booster is the most important thing that people can do to protect themselves from the serious consequences of the illness."

About 65 percent of people in Auckland and Northland who are eligible for the booster shot have received it.

"That's in line with what the modelling is after," Dr Jackson said.

"It's looking at the percentage of people who get it within a month of becoming eligible so it's not directly translatable into the population percentages, but it's pretty much on course."

He said unlike with the Delta strain, many of the current hospitalisations were with Covid-19 rather than because of it.

"There's less overtly respiratory unwell patients in the hospitals. With Delta you saw a lot of people on ventilation and so on, and going into ICU. We've only got the one patient in ICU at the moment."

Dr Jackson said a lot of New Zealand's Covid-19 modelling had been based on Australia but there had been lower peaks here in the past, which meant actual numbers could be lower than predicted.

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