21 Mar 2022

Covid-19 update: Nine deaths, 1000 in hospital and 14,463 community cases

4:01 pm on 21 March 2022

There have been 14,463 new community cases of Covid-19 reported today with 1000 people in hospital and nine deaths, the Ministry of Health says.

Ministry of Health generic

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

In a statement, the ministry said one of the nine Covid-related deaths included a person in their 20s.

Of the people that died five are from the Auckland region, two from Waikato, one from Wairarapa and one from Bay of Plenty.

Five were men and four were women, the ministry said.

"Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this sad time."

The total number of publicly reported Covid-related deaths is now 184.

The cases reported today are in Northland (422), Auckland (3279), Waikato (1401), Bay of Plenty (893), Lakes (457), Hawke's Bay (796), MidCentral (657), Whanganui (209), Taranaki (473), Tairāwhiti (259), Wairarapa (222), Capital and Coast (951), Hutt Valley (583), Nelson Marlborough (404), Canterbury (2,267), South Canterbury (191), Southern (950) and the West Coast (39).

The vast majority (14,224) were detected via RATs while 239 were located using PCR testing.

The 1000 people hospitalised are in Northland (33), North Shore (173), Middlemore (221), Auckland (200), Waikato (76), Bay of Plenty (38), Lakes (12), Tairāwhiti (5), Hawke's Bay (31), Taranaki (7), Whanganui (6), MidCentral (20), Hutt Valley (23), Capital & Coast (51), Wairarapa (7), Nelson Marlborough (11) Canterbury (60), South Canterbury (1) and the Southern (25) region.

There are 33 cases in ICU or HDU.

"Every Covid-19 hospitalisation is a reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent severe illness from Omicron. There is a much lower risk of being hospitalised if you are up to date with your vaccinations, which for Omicron includes a third or booster dose," the ministry said.

On vaccinations, 2244 booster doses were given yesterday, as well as 114 first doses; 142 second doses; four third primary doses; 217 paediatric first doses and 3177 paediatric second doses.

Meanwhile, Cabinet is considering whether and when it will be appropriate to relax mandates, vaccine passes and the traffic light system as the Omicron outbreak passes its peak. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.

In a post-Cabinet update, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said no one would be left fundamentally worse off by the government taking the 48 hours to prepare for its announcement on reducing Covid-19 restrictions.

Asked if she has had legal advice to remove the vaccination requirement for incoming New Zealanders to enter without going into isolation, Ardern said every decision was based on a range of factors.

She said the number of New Zealanders coming in who were not vaccinated was relatively small.

Asked why the move was not announced more widely, she said the decision was communicated directly to those affected, and she was not personally involved in decision-making about whether such changes were communicated via a media statement or otherwise.

On reducing restrictions, she said the tenor of the legal advice on that had not changed.

Asked what companies should do in terms of people using their leave when they have Covid-19 or go into isolation, she said the leave support payment was available for people in those circumstances.

She said there was also extended sick leave that was available to make sure people could be supported if they needed to take time off.

"There is an expectation that leave support payment is used under those kinds of circumstances."

It comes after reports that some organisations are forcing employees to take leave.

Yesterday the ministry reported 957 people in hospital including 26 in ICU, with 12,020 new cases in the community and another nine deaths.

Health workers and hospitals are continuing to report dire hospital staffing shortages, with most surgeries in Wellington hospitals cancelled over the past week.

One Northland GP told First Up today the inevitable surge in demand from Covid-19 was forcing rapid change on GPs and primary care, with "no resource, no support and no consultation".

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