Covid-19: Record 1573 new cases

by Kim Bowden - Feb 17, 2022

There are a record 1573 new community cases in New Zealand today - 35 of them in the Southern region.

The remainder of the cases are in Auckland (1,140), Northland (31), Waikato (143), Bay of Plenty (29), Lakes (35), Hawke's Bay (2), MidCentral (3), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (8), Tairāwhiti (8), Wairarapa (30), Capital and Coast (20), Hutt Valley (22), Nelson Marlborough (49), and Canterbury (7).

Across the country, there are 63 people in hospital, none in intensive care, and none in the South.

The average age of hospital patients with Covid-19 is 62.

There are now 8147 active community cases in New Zealand in total.

A breakdown of how many of those are in the Queenstown-Lakes district is expected from the Southern District Health Board later today.

Yesterday, 40,452 booster doses were administered across the country, bringing the total so far to more than two million doses.

The Ministry of Health Big Boost campaign is encouraging people to receive a vaccine top-up if it's been more than three months since their last dose as their best defence in the latest Omicron Covid outbreak.

RAT roll-out across the country

Rapid antigen tests are being distributed around the country by the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, more than three-million rapid antigen tests (RATs) have been distributed across the country for workers in critical services and at-risk people in the community, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

The deliveries follow the opening of the Government’s test-to-return-to-work scheme and the move to phase two of the Omicron response strategy.

The RATs have been sent to sites including District Health Boards, Healthcare and Emergency Service workforces, testing facilities, GP clinics, aged care facilities and community health providers, Dr Bloomfield says. 

“The Ministry has also provided RATs directly to organisations, including businesses that are currently affected by outbreaks, to make it easier to test their workers who are contacts and keep their organisations running.

There are still significant global supply constraints, but the Ministry has secured the delivery of enough RATs to help New Zealand through a widespread Omicron outbreak in the coming months, Dr Bloomfield says. 

“There are currently 7.3 million RATs in the system with around 22.5 million expected by the end of the month, including 9.2 million due to arrive by the end of next week."

On Wednesday, the first day of the scheme, the Ministry received approximately 200 orders, Dr Bloomfield says. 

"We expect these numbers to go up rapidly...There are collection sites in every DHB around the country, with nearly 100 collection sites ready to go across New Zealand. This number will increase in line with demand as cases rise during the outbreak and more critical workers become close contacts."

People with cold, flu or Covid-19 symptoms should still organise for a PCR test, Dr Bloomfield says. 

WellSouth says RATs for eligible critical workers will be available for collection today from the Queenstown Events Centre in Frankton. In Wānaka, they're at Aspiring Medical Centre. There is no collection point in Cromwell.

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