26 Feb 2022

Covid-19 total: Record rise in cases due to backlog in processing - modeller

11:24 am on 26 February 2022

A Covid-19 modeller says testing and data-processing backlogs are probably behind the record jump in cases.

01 February 2022, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Greifswald: Medical technical assistant Denise Dittmar pipettes swab samples from test centers and prepares them for further examination in the automated machine in the PCR laboratory

A modeller is still expecting the country to reach the peak of its community outbreak by the end of next month. Photo: AFP

Yesterday's 12,000 new community cases were almost double the number of the day before.

The Ministry of Health also announced yesterday that five people had died, which is the most reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa project leader Dion O'Neale says the case numbers may sound scary, but they are likely to reflect a backlog that has built up over the past week.

"We'd hope that now probably the RATs [rapid antigen tests] are starting to catch up with not too much backlog on them but there still will be some backlog on PCR results I suspect.

"That takes a while to clear because that relies on people being able to process them and put them through a machine."

Dr O'Neale says case numbers currently have a doubling time of three to four days on average.

"What we've seen is a week of very noisy data due to data processing and testing systems being a bit up and down."

Dr O'Neale is still anticipating a Covid-19 peak in mid to late March.

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