8 Mar 2022

Covid-19: 23,894 new cases today, 756 people in hospital - Ministry of Health

1:28 pm on 8 March 2022

The Ministry of Health is reporting 23,894 new cases of Covid-19, with 9881 in Auckland.

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Photo: 123rf.com

In addition there are 756 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 16 of those are in ICU. The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 18,669, up from yesterday.

Of the new cases, 596 were confirmed via PCR testing and 23,298 via rapid antigen tests (RATs).

At the 1pm Covid-19 update, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said the actual number of cases in the community was expected to be considerably higher, but that was hard to gauge when using RAT as the primary test. That was why the ministry was focusing on hospitalisations, McElnay said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health reiterated caution when interpreting daily cases.

"We are still seeing a daily increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations and the seven-day rolling average of community cases. From March 1 to March 7, the seven day rolling average increased from 10,698 to 17,921, and over the same period, hospitalisations increased from 373 to 696.

"These numbers clearly show that Omicron is still spreading in our communities ... Contributing factors to the decrease in case numbers seen in the previous few days are likely to have been either a lower level of testing and a lower level of self-reporting of RAT test results over the weekend, or a combination of both."

McElnay said Aucklanders yesterday recorded their highest number of RATs ever, 43,735 - some 25 percent higher than the previous highest day, last Monday.

District Health Boards reported continuing pressure on staffing, particularly with cover through the night but occupancy levels remain manageable, McElnay said.

The lesser severity in comparison to the Delta outbreak was strongly related to the highly vaccinated status of the New Zealand population.

The ministry said it was continuing to see a larger proportion of unvaccinated cases in hospital with Covid-19.

"Just 3 percent of eligible people aged 12 and over in New Zealand have had no doses of the vaccine. However, of those aged over 12 in Northland and Auckland hospitals with Covid-19 for whom we have vaccination data recorded, 19.4 percent have had no doses of the vaccine.

"Even early in the Omicron outbreak, the figures show that, based on the data available, unvaccinated people are significantly over-represented in the current hospitalisation data."

Hospitals are being impacted by the number of cases, with doctors at Middlemore stepping in to cover nursing shifts, and services in Hawke's Bay being reduced.

People are also facing difficulties getting access to rapid antigen tests (RATs) in some areas, including on the Kāpiti Coast. The ministry has said it aimed to ensure 90 percent of people across New Zealand could access a test within a 20-minute drive.

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