20,907 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, 15 deaths reported

There are 20,907 new cases of Covid-19 in the community in New Zealand on Tuesday, the Department of Health announced.

There are 1,016 people hospitalized with the virus, including 25 in intensive care or high dependency units.

This is an increase of 1,000 hospitalizations from Monday, with eight fewer people in intensive care compared to 24 hours ago.

The ministry also announced 15 Covid-related deaths.

Of the 15 people who died, nine were from the Auckland area and three from Waikato and the Wellington area.

One person was in their 50s, three in their 60s, six in their 60s and five in their 80s.

Eight were men and seven were women.

“Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this sad time. Out of respect, we will have no further comment,” the ministry said.

Tuesday’s deaths bring the total number of publicly reported Covid-related deaths to 199.

The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths remains at 10.

Tuesday’s 20,907 positive cases, detected by rapid antigen tests (RATs) and PCR tests, are located in Northland (802), Auckland (4,291), Waikato (1,882), Bay of Plenty (1,218), Lakes (594 ), Hawke’s Bay (1243), MidCentral (954), Whanganui (399), Taranaki (636), Tairāwhiti (382), Wairarapa (323), Capital and Coast (1377), Hutt Valley (808), Nelson Marlborough (683 ), Canterbury (3488), South Canterbury (318), Southern (1439) and West Coast (50).

The location of 20 cases is unknown.

The ministry said 20,676 of Tuesday’s numbers were detected by RATs and 231 by PCR tests. A total of 2007 PCR tests were performed in the past 24 hours, while 43,768 RAT results were reported.

The number of active community cases is 119,131. They have been identified in the last seven days but have not yet been classified as recovered.

The ministry said the seven-day rolling average of cases was 17,020, down from 17,124 on Monday.

There are also 34 new cases at the border on Tuesday.

Increase in cases slows – Bloomfield

Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the ministry’s latest analysis confirms that the number of cases has indeed passed its peak in Metro Auckland and is falling in all three DHBs of the region – Auckland, Waitematā and Manukau counties.

He said Auckland’s 4,291 cases on Tuesday were a third of what they were on March 3 two weeks ago.

Bloomfield added that case increases in the rest of the country are also slowing.

He explained that in the seven days to March 20, the number of cases nationwide (excluding Auckland) increased by just 1%, compared to a 44% increase in the seven days to March 20. March 13.

The model however differs by DHB.

Bloomfield also said there were encouraging signs that cases were peaking in the Te Manawa Taki region (Midland) and in Wellington.

However, cases are on the rise in the South Island.

Hospitalizations in the North region are stabilizing

Bloomfield also said hospitalizations in the Northern Region – Northland, Auckland, Waitematā and Manukau Counties DHBs – were stabilizing and past the peak of the Omicron surge.

He said health officials expected to see hospitalizations drop in the region during the week.

READ MORE: 15 Covid-related deaths on Tuesday

The average length of stay in wards was now 3.2 days, down from just over two days last month.

The average stay in intensive care is five days.

The number of new admissions each day is also falling.

There has also been a drop in positivity rates from people presenting to emergency departments in the region.

Bloomfield said positivity rates remain highest at Middlemore Hospital, despite falling from 40% last month to 28%.

Auckland City Hospital had peaked at 30%. The positivity rate had now fallen to 22%.

Waitematā’s positivity rate was around 18%, while Northland’s was 12%.

The positivity rate at Starship had fallen from 35% to 21%.

Hospital admissions are increasing in the rest of the country

Bloomfield said that while hospitalizations had fallen over the past week in Auckland, admissions in other parts of the country were rising and would continue to do so.

READ MORE: Authorities consider fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine for vulnerable people

The country had not yet reached the peak of the total number of hospitalizations. This normally happens about one to two weeks after the peak in the number of cases, he explained.

Bloomfield also revealed the differences in hospitalization rates in Auckland between the Delta and Omicron outbreaks – 8% and 0.9% respectively.

He said this confirms that although Omicron is less serious, its impact on the healthcare system is greater due to the large number of cases.

Bloomfield added that the hospitalization rate will increase by around 1-2% over the next few weeks.

Cases likely to stay in the low 1,000s – Bloomfield

The chief health officer also said international experience suggests New Zealand can expect to see cases likely to stay in the low 1,000s a day for some time.

He said that although the current wave of Omicron is receding, it is clear that the country needs to keep its wits about it with more waves and future variants of concern.

“In summary, we can be cautiously optimistic we are past the peak of this outbreak, particularly in Auckland. We don’t know exactly how quickly cases and hospitalizations will fall, and with colder winter months in come, we must remain vigilant to Covid and other respiratory viruses.”

On Wednesday, rule changes around Covid-19 vaccine passes and warrants, as well as traffic light settings, will be announced.

On Monday, 14,463 community cases were recorded in New Zealand.

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