Covid death rate likely to rise says Ministry; warns Pacific cases may be under-reported

The number of New Zealanders dying from Covid-19 is likely to increase in the future.

The Ministry of Health said the rate of infection and hospitalisation rate was rising.

In contrast, the global trend showed the number of new cases to October 30 falling by 17 percent.

New Zealand had experienced two months of declining case numbers during August and September, after a peak in July.

Health Ministry figures for the week ending October 30, showed a 25.4 percent increase in cases compared with the previous week.

Wastewater testing and reported case rates used to monitor Covid-19 showed rates of the disease had been substantially increasing since early October, the ministry’s report said.

Wastewater testing indicated that the number of Covid cases was likely up to 28 percent higher than what was being reported.

The number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 had continued to fall in recent weeks. However, the Ministry said hospitalisation and death rates lagged behind changes in infection rates, and it was probable they would rise.

Pacific community

Māori and Pacific reported rates were rising, but continue to be lower than those of Europeans.

The seven-day rolling average of reported case among Māori was 37.9 per 100,000 population on 30 October, while among Pacific the number was 33.0 per 100,000 population.

The Ministry said it was concerned that this may be caused by under-reporting.

The Covid-19 related death rate for Māori and Pacific people was higher than for Europeans or other ethnicities (1.9 times higher for Māori, and 2.4 times higher for Pacific peoples).

The future

Meanwhile, calls have been made for the government to establish a permanent group of experts to deal with a future pandemic.

Otago University academic Philip Hill wants a pandemic response unit and a closer eye on disease around the world. He said this would help identify pandemic threats quickly and give New Zealand more time to prepare.

His call has been echoed by other academic experts.

Professor Hill said it was debatable whether New Zealand could have stamped out Covid-19 without a lockdown in those early months of 2020.

He said that New Zealand should have been able to avoid a lockdown if the country was as ready as the government said it was.

“Pandemic preparedness, at least for a virus with similar properties, should be regarded as a failure if a country requires a lockdown in the first six to 12 months,” Professor Hill said.

In 2020 Professor Hill was appointed to a government Covid-19 surveillance and testing strategy group.

For more information

Covid-19 infections

How to control a pandemic

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