3 Mar 2022

Covid-19: More than half of new cases in under-30s - Dr Ashley Bloomfield

2:22 pm on 3 March 2022

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says most current cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand are under 30 years old - with 54 percent of today's cases under 30 and just 14 percent aged over 50.

Dr Bloomfield said the opposite pattern was seen in those in hospital, with 21 percent under 30, and more than 60 percent aged over 50.

Dr Bloomfield spoke to media about the latest Covid-19 numbers and the government's response.

Watch it here:

There were 23,183 new cases reported today, with 503 people in hospital and seven in intensive care. There are 146,527 known active community cases.

Dr Bloomfield said about one in 10 people in hospital in Auckland had Covid-19, including those in emergency departments.

He said newly arrived rapid antigen tests were flowing out to supply chains, but he noted those supply chains were challenged, with many of those who work in the supply chains themselves cases or contacts.

There are 169 collection sites where people who are on the critical worker exemption scheme can collect the tests, and there are also more than 100 community testing centres where the tests are available, and 26 providers focused on Māori and Pasifika populations.

Dr Bloomfield said he wanted to make the point that GPs were not collection points for tests.

He said a new website has been built - the RATs requester site - which allows people who are symptomatic or are household contacts to click and collect an order for RATs.

Initial problems with the site have been sorted out, and more than 65,000 orders have been placed online with more than 1000 also placed over the phone.

He said more collection points for the tests are being set up every day, but he acknowledged there were queues at many of them. He said many of the staff at these sites had been subjected to some "quite unpleasant behaviour" and asked people to be patient.

"Staff are doing their absolute best."

Today was Dr Bloomfield's first appearance at the podium since his apology on Tuesday for delays to PCR testing results, due to a significant backlog created by an underestimation of laboratory capacity. Opposition parties condemned the error.

Yesterday, daily case numbers reached 22,152 and hospitalisations topped 405 even as riot police moved in and dispersed the protest against Covid-19 restrictions, which has occupied the Parliament grounds for over three weeks.

It saw protesters set fire to tents, scrub and other structures in the grounds, and police responded with pepper spray and sponge bullets as protesters lobbed cobblestones, metal poles and other detritus.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs