There are 11,382 new Covid-19 community cases in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has announced on Thursday.
The numbers were reported over the last 24 hours.
Bloomfield also confirmed there are 765 people in hospital with the virus, 36 more than Wednesday.
He also announced another 23 deaths of people with Covid-19. They had died over the past seven days.
The latest deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths of people with Covid-19 to 1760.
The seven-day rolling average of cases is 9826, up from 8013 a week ago, and up on 9710 24 hours ago. For hospitalisations it is 673 and for Covid-19 deaths it is 20.
Bloomfield made the announcement in a press conference alongside Covid-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall.
The director-general of health said 412 of Thursday’s cases were considered reinfections.
He remarked case rates were trending upwards across the country. This was driving hospitalisations up “quite rapidly”. He added the testing of border workers and wastewater supported all of this.
In the first Omicron wave, Bloomfield said those aged over 65 weren’t that impacted by the virus. This wasn’t happening in the current wave, he said.
Bloomfield said around half of the country’s cases are being picked up in testing, so there is “double that number” out there. Asymptomatic infections, people with very mild symptoms, people not uploading their results or testing at all were all factors, he said.
The upward trend in community cases is primarily due to the Omicron subvariant BA.5. Bloomfield said it will soon be the dominant variant in the country, as it currently accounts for 47% of cases.
Modelling had shown if the country does nothing – if current mask-use and more is maintained – the country could see a peak of more than 1200 hospital beds occupied each day, Bloomfield said.
This would be higher than the peak occupancy seen in March.
If people “do something” the peak in bed occupancy would be under 1000, around 950 to be exact, Bloomfield said.
He also said cases would peak around 21,000 per day – similar to the first wave – if steps such as masking, getting tested and getting vaccinated aren’t taken.
If people take these steps, cases per day would peak at under 18,000.
Bloomfield remarked it is incumbent on everyone to reduce infections and the impact on the health system.
“If everyone does their bit, we will get through winter.”
Thursday’s positive cases, detected through rapid antigen tests (RATs) and PCR tests, are located in Northland (280), Auckland (3438), Waikato (758), Bay of Plenty (463), Lakes (253), Hawke’s Bay (524), MidCentral (463), Whanganui (176), Taranaki (247), Tairāwhiti (93), Wairarapa (148), Capital and Coast/Hutt Valley (1285), Nelson Marlborough (319), Canterbury/West Coast (1737), South Canterbury (147) and Southern (1045).
The location of six cases is unknown.
A total of 4054 PCR tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, while 18,425 RAT results were reported.
The number of active community cases is 68,737. They were identified in the past seven days but have not yet been classified as recovered.
An additional 334 people with Covid-19 had recently travelled overseas and arrived back in New Zealand, the ministry said.
On Wednesday, 11,464 community cases were announced.
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