New Zealand’s Covid infections have dropped to their lowest level in six months, in signs the winter wave that made it one of the country’s biggest killers is easing.
On Sunday the daily health ministry briefing reported 2,618 cases, the lowest number since Omicron cases took off in February. Case numbers rose on Monday to 3,387 but the overall trajectory is steadily down. The ministry reported 536 people hospitalised with the virus on Monday, with 13 cases in intensive care units, and 12 deaths.
According to Johns Hopkins data tracked by the New York Times – which can run a few days behind ministry numbers – New Zealand is eighth in the world for average daily deaths and cases per 100,000 people. In mid-July it was in the top three.
While daily numbers jump around, experts say the overall trend is clear, with wastewater testing, reported tests results, and testing of selected groups of workers all going down.
Experts have expressed cautious relief at the numbers.
“There may be a little less reporting now than there was a while ago but there’s no strong signs anywhere else of that, so in terms of case numbers it’s looking pretty good,” computational biologist David Welch told RNZ. The public health professor Michael Baker also said the numbers were a positive sign.
The case numbers mark a strong shift from mid-July, when cases spiked and Covid-19 drew level with heart disease as New Zealand’s biggest killer, overtaking strokes and the primary forms of cancer.
The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers on Monday was 4,230 – last Monday it was 5,288. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations was down from 660 last Monday to 570.