15 Mar 2022

Covid-19 update: Two more deaths, 21,616 new community cases and 960 people in hospital

3:02 pm on 15 March 2022

There have been 21,616 new cases of Covid-19 in the community and 960 people are in hospital.

Coronavirus disease COVID-19 outbreak Microscopic view of a infectious virus Red Virus cell 3D Rendering

Photo: 123rf.com

Of those in hospital, there are also 22 cases in ICU or High-dependency units.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health also reported two Covid-related deaths.

Both people who died, a man and a woman, were aged over 70. One of these was in Southern and one in Capital Coast DHBs.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with the patients' family and friends."

Today's new cases are in Northland (708), Auckland (6,085), Waikato (2,062), Bay of Plenty (1,424), Lakes (633), Hawke's Bay (1,111), MidCentral (888), Whanganui (276), Taranaki (510), Tairāwhiti (446), Wairarapa (229), Capital and Coast (1,584), Hutt Valley (987), Nelson Marlborough (524), Canterbury (2,642), South Canterbury (217), Southern (1,238), West Coast (43).

The location of nine cases is unknown.

There are also 17 new cases at the border today.

New Zealand has now recorded a total of 398,329 cases of Covid-19.

The seven-day rolling average of cases is currently at 19,226.

In the last 24 hours, 51,110 rapid antigen tests were taken and 2,529 PCR tests were taken.

Yesterday, 224 first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine were administered; 478 second doses; 47 third primary doses; 5,954 booster doses; 360 paediatric first doses and 3,520 paediatric second doses.


The cases in hospital are in Northland: 23; North Shore: 187; Middlemore: 245; Auckland: 200; Waikato: 77; Bay of Plenty: 35; Lakes: 9; Tairāwhiti: 1, Hawke's Bay: 23; Taranaki: 14; MidCentral: 20; Whanganui: 2; Hutt Valley: 22; Capital and Coast: 33; Wairarapa: 7; Nelson Marlborough: 12; Canterbury: 33; South Canterbury: 3; Southern: 14.

The average age of current hospitalisations is 58.

In the 1pm Covid-19 press conference, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says in the Northern region there are 559 people in hospital, with 40 percent - some 233 - aged 70 or over.

"So we have seen a shift towards older people being in hospital and we know they're more likely to require longer care and so may have a longer length of stay in hospital."

He says the reason someone is in hospital is not actually finalised until they are discharged through a careful and internationally consistent process.

He says there are three groups of people who may be in hospital with Covid-19: people are in hospital primarily because of Covid-19, those who have pre-existing conditions who get Covid which makes that condition worse, and third people who are admitted for unrelated reasons.

Between 2 and 11 March, just 19 percent of people were admitted to the respiratory service - for treatment of Covid-related symptoms.

A further 36 percent were admitted for other medical care, and for some of those it may well be their condition was exacerbated by Covid-19.

Some 23 percent admitted at the time were there for reasons other than Covid-19. The remaining 15 percent were children admitted to the paediatric ward.

Bloomfield says overall at least a third of people admitted during that time happened to have Covid, and only about 20 percent were there primarily to have their Covid symptoms treated. This was just one hospital over a short time but it does give an indication, he says.

Bloomfield says we saw higher case numbers compared to modelling from before the outbreak, but it is clear that the number of cases in Auckland is on the way down.

He says while admissions are on the way down, we are still seeing the total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 continuing to increase. Peak hospitalisations do typically lag behind peak case numbers by about a week.

Yesterday 15,540 new community cases of Covid-19 were reported, as well as two more Covid-related deaths. A total of 952 people with Covid were in hospital yesterday, including 19 in ICU.

From Friday to Sunday the Ministry of Health reported a total of 22 Covid-related deaths.

Before today, the daily number of community Covid cases reported had dropped below 20,000 with 15,540 cases reported yesterday, 14,494 on Sunday and 18,699 on Saturday.

But epidemiologist Rod Jackson said it is too early to say the Omicron outbreak has peaked and reported Covid cases are thought to be only a fraction of the actual cases which are in the community.

There is also a call from public health experts for people to be considered fully vaccinated only once they have had all three doses since they say the booster is essential in ensuring protection from Omicron.

  • Omicron outbreak: Expert emphasises Covid-19 vaccine booster is essential, not extra
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  • Covid-19 update: Two more deaths, 15,540 new cases and 952 in hospital
  • Declining Covid-19 case counts: Epidemiologist Rod Jackson says too early to celebrate