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In spite of a record 34 covid-related deaths being reported in New Zealand today, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay says it is encouraging to see an overall and sustained drop in case numbers.

“For three days last week, case numbers were reported at over 20,000 … today’s case number is up a bit [on Monday] but that is to be expected as testing rates are always a bit low over the weekend,” she said.

The Ministry of Health reported 17,148 new cases of covid-19 in the community and the reported deaths were over a period of 10 days, taking the covid-19 related death toll to 303.

One person was in their 30s, one person was in their 50s, five were in their 60s, nine were in their 70s, seven in their 80s and 11 were in their 90s.

Seventeen were male and 17 were female.

The reduction in case numbers has been most pronounced in Auckland. Cases have fallen from just under 4300 reported cases last Monday to 2300 yesterday.

Dr McElnay said while numbers overall were dropping, regional spikes were occurring.

The so-called “Mexican wave of cases” is being reflected the most in Canterbury, she said. “We’re seeing those numbers roll down the country.”

Overall, numbers were expected to continue to decrease over the week.

Rest of NZ lagging
The only district health boards (DHBs) with increases in numbers are Whanganui, MidCentral, Taranaki and the South Island DHBs.

“That probably tells us that the rest of New Zealand is about a couple of weeks behind Auckland,” Dr McElnay said.

“It gives us a signal of where we hope to be in the next couple of weeks.”

“We are optimistic that in the next couple of weeks the rest of the country will follow the same pattern as Auckland and we will see a drop in hospitalisation and a decrease in pressure on our health services.”

Dr McElnay said that once a person tested positive for covid-19, they should not test again for 28 days.

If you develop new symptoms after that, then test. If you test positive, you are considered a new case and you must isolate again.

This weekend was the start of eased restrictions which the government announced early last week.

Meanwhile, more than 1300 doses of Novavax’s covid-19 vaccine, which has been available since March 14 for those who cannot have the Pfizer jab or would prefer not to, have so far been administered.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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