Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Child under 10 among 13 virus-related deaths, 4006 community cases, 654 in hospital

A child under the age of 10 is among 13 deaths linked to Covid in today’s Ministry of Health update.

There are 4006 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

There are 654 people in hospital with the virus, including 16 in intensive care.

Health officials have reported a further 13 Covid-related deaths – including a child under the age of 10.

Five of these people were from Auckland, two were from Waikato, one was from Bay of Plenty, two were from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Taranaki, one was from Canterbury and one person was from the Southern region.

One of these people was aged less than 10 years old.

One person was aged in their 60s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Six were female and seven were male.

The Ministry of Health says there have now been 1638 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.

The seven-day rolling average of Covid community cases is now 5288, while last Monday it was 6990.

Today’s 654 people in hospital are being treated at Northland: 36; Waitematā: 61; Counties Manukau: 51; Auckland: 75; Waikato: 60; Bay of Plenty: 30; Lakes: 17; Hawke’s Bay: 32; MidCentral: 21; Whanganui: 13; Taranaki: 22; Tairāwhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 5; Capital, Coast: 23; Hutt: 13; Nelson Marlborough: 20; Canterbury: 107; West Coast: 4; South Canterbury: 27; Southern: 35.

The average age of current Covid hospitalisations is 63.

Meanwhile an expert says we should expect to see thousands of daily cases for the foreseeable future, even though the number of hospitalisations is dropping.

Although the latest outbreak had peaked, there were likely to be thousands of new Omicron cases every day for the foreseeable future, infectious diseases modeller Dr David Welch said.

Unlike the eradication of the earlier Covid-19 variants in 2020 and 2021, Omicron would stay in the community until it was superseded by a new strain, said Welch, a computer science senior lecturer at Auckland University.

That meant it would probably fall to around 3000 new cases a day until the next wave arrived, he said.

Yesterday, there were 3302 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand reported.

While most people had been able to recover from Covid-19 at home, hospital numbers continued to run high, with 606 people receiving care, and 16 in ICU.

But hospitalisation rates were still slowly falling after the latest Omicron wave peaked, with the seven-day rolling average down from 810 a week ago to 675 yesterday.

The average age of those in hospital with Covid-19 is 64.

A further 18 deaths were reported.

Covid-19 has been directly responsible for one in seven recent deaths – and has already claimed five times as many lives as those lost in car accidents last year.

A Herald analysis showed that, in the week ending July 17 – around the time this second Omicron wave was peaking – 836 people died across New Zealand.

Of those deaths, 120 – nearly 15 per cent – were directly attributed to Covid-19.

Nearly one in five died within 28 days of being reported as a Covid-19 case.

“For the first time, Covid-19 has probably become the leading cause of death in New Zealand,” Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said.

“Fifteen per cent of people dying from Covid-19 is about the same proportion of people who die from ischaemic heart disease, which is currently our single biggest killer.

“It’s also twice the number dying from stroke, which has long been number two.”

And as health experts have constantly warned throughout the pandemic, that burden hasn’t been falling equally across society.

So far, Māori and Pacific people have accounted for more than a third of hospitalisations with Covid-19 – and nearly two in 10 deaths where the virus was the underlying cause.

Another clear risk factor in hospitalisation and deaths remained age.

All but 46 of those who’d died from the virus were older than 60 – and two-thirds of deaths were recorded among people older than 80.

Baker has already aired concerns that average life expectancy – a measure that New Zealand was only one of three countries to improve over the first two years of the pandemic – could fall significantly because of Covid-19.