Live: 24 Covid deaths and 8638 new cases over past two days

Twenty-four people have died with Covid and there are 8638 new community cases of Covid-19.

Today’s announcement by the Ministry of Health includes new cases, along with deaths, for the past two days after they weren’t released yesterday as the country celebrated its first Matariki public holiday.

There are 316 people in hospital with the virus, including four in intensive care.

Of today’s reported deaths, 23 occurred this month and one last month, the ministry said.

“They take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1455, and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 12.”

Eleven of those who died were in their 80s, and seven were aged over 90. One person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, and four were in their 70s. Thirteen were men and 11 were women.

Most of those who died were from the North Island: six from Auckland, three each from Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, and one each from Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa and Wellington.

In the South Island, two were from Nelson-Marlborough, three were from Canterbury and one was from the Southern District Health Board area.

The new deaths announced today take the overall publicly reported Covid-19 death toll in New Zealand since the pandemic began to 1455.

The rolling seven-day average for new cases of Covid-19 has fallen compared to a week ago.

Today it is 4737. On Saturday last week it was 5154.

The new community cases detected over the past two days are in Northland (217), Auckland (2693), Waikato (522), Bay of Plenty (295), Lakes (131), Hawke’s Bay (256), MidCentral (256), Whanganui (94), Taranaki (195), Tairāwhiti (76), Wairarapa (99), Capital and Coast (811), Hutt Valley (338), Nelson Marlborough (343), Canterbury (1401), South Canterbury (93), Southern (723) and the West Coast (90).

Five cases are people from unknown areas.

There were also 211 new cases at the border over the past two days.

In total, there are 33,137 active cases in the community, but health officials have previously said they suspect around a third of all cases aren’t being reported.

More than 1.29 million people are known to have been infected with Covid-19 in New Zealand since the pandemic began.

There were 17,404 rapid antigen and 4652 PCR tests reported in the past 48 hours.

Of those with Covid-19 in hospitals in Auckland, Canterbury, Southern, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Capital Coast, Waitematā and Northland, 14 per cent were unvaccinated or ineligible, 1 per cent were partially immunised, 19 per cent were double-vaccinated and 66 per cent were boosted.

The average age of those in hospital is 61.

Those hospitalised are in Northland (3), Waitematā (52), Counties Manukau (26), Auckland (46), Waikato (22), Bay of Plenty (10), Lakes (13), Tairāwhiti (1), Hawke’s Bay (4), Taranaki
(11), Whanganui (2), MidCentral (21), Wairarapa (6), Hutt Valley (12), Capital and Coast (18), Nelson Marlborough (5), Canterbury (39), South Canterbury (7), West Coast (1), and Southern (17).

Meanwhile, the rate of hospitalisations because of severe acute respiratory infection (Sari) have been increasing for the past six weeks, and was higher than previous years for this time of year, the Ministry of Health said in a statement, prompting a reminder to get vaccinated against the flu.

About nine people per 100,000 were being hospitalised with Sari.

“Influenza is the most commonly detected virus in the week ending 19 June. The Ministry of Health would like to remind people who haven’t yet had their flu vaccine this year to get vaccinated as soon as they can.”

Few Covid-19 vaccinations are being given, with much of the 12+ population now at least double-vaccinated.

Just 11 first doses, 10 second doses and 306 booster doses were administered yesterday, along with 16 paediatric first doses and 147 paediatric second doses.

Nationally, 95.2 per cent of over 12s are double-dosed and 72.9 per cent of those eligible have received their booster.

For Māori, the double-dosed rate is 88.4 per cent, with 55.9 per cent of those eligible also boosted.

Tamariki Māori vaccination rates also lag the national rate – just 13 per cent have received two doses, compared to 26.9 per cent across all ethnicities. The double-dosed percentage for Pacific Peoples aged 5 to 11 is 16.7 per cent.

With many going away for the Matariki long weekend, the ministry also reminded travellers to have a plan in case they contract Covid-19 or are identified as a household contact.

“You would need to self-isolate and likely remain wherever you test positive or become a household contact, so there may be extra costs involved in paying for additional accommodation and changing your travel plans.”

Only those who used their own vehicle to travel can return home to isolate. Anyone relying on public transport or travelling between islands is required to isolate in place.

As the outbreak’s long tail continues into winter, health bosses are looking at ways to deal with possible future mutations of Covid-19.

It was likely a new Covid-19 variant of concern would emerge within weeks or months, the Ministry of Health said.

As a result, a new “variants of concern” strategic framework had been developed, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Wednesday’s briefing to new Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall.

The new plan had five scenarios outlining the severity and immune-escape characteristics of various possible variants.

A worst-case scenario would involve a highly transmissible variant also capable of evading immune responses, and the Government couldn’t rule out the return of lockdowns as a last resort to combat future Covid variants.

But lockdowns and border closures would only be used as a last resort, Verrall said.

“All measures have to be proportionate and justified, in accordance with our laws.”