Covid-19: Ministry of Health reports 24068 new weekly Covid cases – Stuff

There have been 24,068 new community Covid-19 cases reported in the past week, compared to 21,595 cases a week ago.
The Ministry of Health gave the update, covering the period from Monday, November 14, to Sunday, November 20, on Monday afternoon.
There were 344 people in hospital with the virus as of midnight on Sunday, three of whom were in an intensive care or high dependency care unit. That was up from 325 the previous Sunday, seven of whom were in an intensive care or high dependency care unit.
The past week saw two of the highest single days for reported Covid-19 cases since mid-August: 4282 cases reported on Monday, and 4322 on Saturday.
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The ministry also reported 40 deaths with Covid over the past week. Of these, 28 were attributed to Covid-19 (either as the underlying cause or a contributory cause). Categorisations of 11 were not yet available, with one classed as not Covid.
The week before there were 56 deaths, 35 attributed to Covid, with the remaining 21 not categorised.
Of the latest deaths, one was under 10-years-old, one was in their 50s, five were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, 15 were in their 80s and 10 were aged over 90.
Total number of deaths attributed to Covid was 2182, the ministry said.
The seven-day rolling average of daily cases rose to 3434 in the past week, from 3079 the week earlier.
Of the 24,068 new cases, 4874 were reinfections, including 193 that were reinfections within 90 days of a previous case.
Waitematā had the highest number of new reported cases, with 3344, while Counties Manukau had 2786, Canterbury 2782, Auckland 2519, Waikato 1939, and Capital and Coast 1858.
It comes as the Ministry of Health last week back-tracked on its statement that approximately three-quarters of infections were being reported as cases, instead telling Stuff 35% was a “more realistic” figure.
ESR’s latest Covid-19 Genomics Insights Dashboard, covering the fortnight to November 11, showed a continuing decline in the proportion of new cases attributed to the longer established BA.5 variant.
In the most recent week for which sequencing data was available, the BA.5 variant was down to 66% of cases, while the next two most common variants were BA.2.75 up to 13% and BQ.1.1 up to 10%.
The Project Lead of Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa, Dr Dion O’Neale, said between the steadily-growing presence of new, immunity-evading variants and the changes we’re making in response to Covid-19 rules coming down, “it’s a complicated mess.”
He said increasing case numbers go back to September, when the Covid-19 protection framework was dismantled and people’s behaviour started changing in response, especially when it comes to masks.
And while many people were infected in the wake of those rule changes, they were fewer than those infected during June and July during a previous Omicron wave. Right about now, their infection immunity is no match for the new variants popping their head above the trend line, O’Neale said.
“They were growing in the background as we had the behavioural relaxation and case numbers went up from that change, but they were obscured,” he said.
“Now they are going to be what is driving the upwards trend at the moment.”
O’Neale, who is a senior lecturer in physics at the University of Auckland, said he expects case numbers to continue to rise coming into the festive season.
People ought to be doing what they can to avoid a second or third infection of Covid-19, even if they had a mild case the first time around, he said, as it’s no guarantee of a mild reinfection.
Meanwhile, the low rate of reporting suggests the picture is worse than the public can actually know for sure. The Ministry of Health has reported it believes 35% of all infections are officially reported by those who test positive.
“Even if infection numbers get worse, will we see it happen if people aren’t reporting?” O’Neae said.
He hopes that in public places like transport and supermarkets, people will go back to voluntarily wearing their masks if possible.
“Taking the stance that only the vulnerable need to wear a mask puts all the burden on the vulnerable, who are not protected as much as if the other people around them were wearing a mask,” he said.
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