19 Jul 2022

Covid-19 update: 21 further deaths and 10,424 new community cases

1:52 pm on 19 July 2022

Another 21 people with Covid-19 have died and there are a further 10,424 new community cases of the virus.

Microscopic close-up of the covid-19 disease. Blue Coronavirus illness spreading in body cell. 2019-nCoV analysis on microscope level 3D rendering

Photo: 123RF

In today's statement, the Ministry of Health said there were also 788 people in hospital with the coronavirus, down from 797 people yesterday, including 20 in ICU.

Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 detected in community

The ministry revealed that two of the community cases in Auckland had the Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant, the first time this subvariant had been detected in the community in New Zealand.

Both cases were linked to known imported cases and were isolating at home, it said.

"This is in addition to the six BA.2.75 reported cases previously reported, which are all associated with recent travel overseas."

The ministry said at this stage, there was no evidence that BA.2.75 required a shift in public health settings already in place to manage other Omicron variants.

"BA.2.75 is a recently identified second generation subvariant of BA.2, the dominant variant circulating in New Zealand at this stage. BA.2.75 has only been recently identified as distinct from BA.2, and evidence on its transmissibility, immune evasiveness and severity is still preliminary and emerging.

"We do know BA.2.75 has some characteristics that looks like they may enhance its ability to evade immunity, similar to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, and there is some early evidence overseas that it may be slightly more transmissible than BA.2. There is no current evidence that it leads to more severe disease, although assessing the evidence is at a very early stage."

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 9528.

Reporting on deaths with Covid-19

On the deaths being reported today, the ministry said one was from April and one death from June, which were being reported following completion of the cause of death assessment. In some instances, it can take some time for the full clinical assessments to be finalised, it said.

Two of the deaths were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, one was from Lakes, two were from MidCentral, one was from Whanganui, three were from Wellington region, four were from Nelson/Marlborough, three were from Canterbury/West Coast and four were from Southern.

One person was in their 40s, one was in their 60s, four were in their 70s, 10 were in their 80s and five were aged over 90. Of these people, 13 were women and eight were men.

That takes the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1870 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 23.

The ministry said from today, the way Covid-19 deaths are reported will be shifting from reporting all people who died within 28 days of a Covid-19 infection to people who died because of Covid-19 or where it was recorded as a contributing factor.

"While we continue to report additional deaths with Covid-19 in the daily updates, the focus on reporting total Covid-19 deaths will shift to cases where Covid-19 is either the underlying or a contributing cause of a death. These are the deaths that can be wholly or partly 'attributed' to Covid-19. This a more meaningful measure in understanding the burden of severe disease from Covid-19.

There were also 348 new Covid-19 cases at the border.

Yesterday the deaths of 22 people with Covid-19 were announced as well 7612 new community cases.

Immunologist and Malaghan Institute director Graham le Gros has warned "we're in for a rough ride" as new Covid-19 variants and waning immunity make it more likely people will be infected or reinfected with the virus.

The Ministry of Health said the highly-transmissible BA.5 subvariant of Omicron would become the dominant strain of the virus in New Zealand in a matter of weeks.

Professor le Gros said the virus had moved on and people had been infected with previous versions of Covid-19.

"The one that is circulating now has changed so much that that immunity doesn't work quite so well and when you add in the factor that the immunity that's been generated by either the previous virus infection or vaccine, it runs down over a period of six months - it seems that it's very short-lived immunity."

That meant people were susceptible to getting infected by new variants, he told First Up.

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