The number of Covid-19 cases has increased in the past week. On Monday 4 December, the Ministry of Health reported that there were 6656 new cases, but on Monday 11 December the Ministry reported 7880 new cases. There were 336 cases in hospital and five in intensive care. Last week there were 20 deaths attributed to the virus, whereas this week there were 27 deaths.
Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist from the University of Otago, said in November that New Zealand was experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections. The numbers of people with Covid-19 in hospital then were at their highest point in six months. He explained that this was probably because people’s immunity was lower, partly because they may not have had a booster recently. Of people aged 50 to 64, fewer than 40% had received their second booster. He said that people have got used to living with Covid-19 but that it is still the most significant infectious disease problem in New Zealand. There are also some concerns about repeated infections and long Covid. Professor Baker said that if people have not had a booster, they are more likely to need to go to hospital if they get Covid.
Health officials are now reminding the public that anyone over 30 can get a booster for free if it’s over six months since their last one or their last Covid infection. The booster is recommended for people aged 65 and over, Māori and Pasifika aged 50 and older, people who are immunocompromised, and pregnant women.
Health officials still advise people to stay home if they’re unwell and to wear a mask in closed or crowded spaces. Rapid antigen tests, or RAT tests, will remain free until the end of February 2024.
attributed to – believed to be caused by
epidemiologist – someone who studies how diseases spread and how to control them
booster – another vaccination that helps increase someone’s protection against a disease
immunocompromised – if someone is immunocompromised, their immune system is weakened, so their body cannot fight infections as easily