981 new cases today as numbers dip below 1000 for first time since February

New Zealand had 911 new community cases today – eight months since the daily case count fell below 1000. photo/123rf

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Covid-19 cases fell below 1,000 for the first time since mid-February.

The Ministry of Health today reported 981 new cases. The last time Aotearoa had fewer than 1000 cases was on February 15, when 744 cases were reported per day.

Of the new cases, 92 were reinfections and 30 were reinfections within 90 days.

70 cases were also detected at the border.

The number of cases has been falling steadily in recent weeks, and the Ministry of Health said last week that the latest evidence showed “real and ongoing evidence of a decline in Covid-19 in our community”.

Six people died from Covid-19 today – one in their 70s and five in their 80s. Four are women and two are men. Three are from the Auckland region, one is from Hawke’s Bay, one is from Nelson Marlborough and one is from Canterbury.

The number of deaths attributed to the virus remained the same in 1950.

Today’s figures come as New Zealand may soon drop Covid-19 restrictions as infection and hospitalisation rates are at their lowest in seven months.

The government will decide to cancel the traffic light system and other orders

The government will decide on Monday whether to lift the entire traffic light system and other Covid-19 orders, a decision that will see remaining restrictions, such as mask rules, lifted on Wednesday and end more than two years of Covid-19 rules.

The Herald understands Cabinet will decide on Monday to recommend the complete removal of the traffic light system, rather than tweaking settings or turning green.

If it goes ahead, it will come into effect as early as Wednesday – the main legal instrument on which the Covid-19 order is based will expire if Cabinet decides not to renew it.

The 2020 Epidemic Preparedness (Covid-19) Notice is one of the first legal instruments for governments and health authorities to exercise special powers in response to Covid-19: including traffic light systems. If not renewed, all orders associated with it will also be forfeited.

The notice, which has been updated every three months since it was implemented in March 2020, requires the Prime Minister to declare she is satisfied that the impact of the outbreak could continue to “severely” disrupt essential government and business activities in New Zealand.

The decision was made in consultation with the Minister of Health and the Minister of Health. It is understood that Cabinet is still getting some advice from health officials, but the advice to Cabinet is that it may come to an end.

Ministers have increasingly questioned the continued effectiveness and palatability of Covid-19 restrictions, pointing to waning public compliance and support for measures such as wearing masks, and whether this has fallen to the point where the rules are ineffective.

If Cabinet agrees, Covid-19 will be handled in a similar way to influenza.

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