New Zealand’s Covid-19 case numbers are likely to continue to fall, even if daily cases drop to their highest levels since the start of our first Omicron wave, a modeller said.Photo/Brett Phoebes
New Zealand’s Covid-19 case numbers are likely to continue to fall, even if daily cases drop to their highest levels since the start of our first Omicron wave, a modeller said.
The daily number of cases was just 1103 yesterday after reaching nearly 12,000 in a BA.5-driven winter wave.
On Friday, the rolling average of new infections per week fell below 2,000 for the first time since the outbreak of the Omicron outbreak in February, down from 2,855 on Friday to 1948.
Most of the decline occurred in August, when daily numbers fell from more than 7,000 to less than 2,300 at the end of the month.
“At the moment they are still trending down, 20 to 30 per cent each week, so there is no real sign that they are leveling off,” said Professor Michael Planck of Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa.
Perhaps the biggest factor behind the decline is that the virus is now finding fewer infections.
Last month, Planck said that at least half the population is now infected — and those who haven’t yet contracted the virus are likely to be in the minority.
“The rate of reported infections could be between 40% and 65%,” Planck said at the time.
“It’s unlikely to be much lower than 40 per cent, as at least 40 per cent of all 20- to 25-year-olds have reported cases.”
On the other hand, he said, the reported infection rate is typically less than 65% of the infection rate among routinely tested populations such as border workers.
“This means that at least half of New Zealanders may have contracted Covid-19, although those who haven’t yet may still be a significant percentage.”
Speaking to the Herald today, Planck said a drop in the number of people being tested could or could lead to a drop in numbers.
“It could happen to some extent,” he said.
“But the fact that hospitalizations are also trending down and falling at a similar rate, I think we can say that this drop in cases is a real impact, not just a testing artifact.”
Yesterday, another 11 virus-related deaths were reported.
As of Monday morning, there have been 2,845 virus-related deaths, of which 1,915 have been attributed to Covid-19, either as an underlying cause or as a contributing factor.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that after almost a year of using the traffic light system, it was time to see if the current setup was still “fit for purpose”.
The results of the latest review are expected next week.
Despite the low number of cases, experts urged the government to continue core measures such as wearing masks in high-risk settings and mandatory quarantine periods for those infected.
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