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Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 11 deaths with Covid and 4404 community cases amid nursing ‘crisis’ warning & More Breaking News Headlines Today

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Middlemore Hospital’s emergency department is under increasing strain, while nurses’ organisations are reporting a shortage. Photo / NZME

Eleven more people have died with Covid-19 and there are 4404 new cases of the virus in the community today.

There are also 356 people in hospital with the virus, including three in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.

The average age of those in hospital is 59.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is down on a week ago. Today its 5154. Last Saturday it was 5914.

The 11 new deaths reported all occurred in the last three days.

“Today’s reported deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1401 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13,” the ministry said.

One person was in their 40s, one was in their 50s, five were in their 70s, one was in their 80s and three were aged over 90. Of these people, four were women and seven were men.

Three came from Auckland and two each came from Wellington and Canterbury regions. There was also one person each from Tairāwhiti, Lakes, West Coast and Southern district health board areas.

Today’s new cases of the virus were detected in Northland (126), Auckland (1318), Waikato (287), Bay of Plenty (177), Lakes (72), Hawke’s Bay (101), MidCentral (155), Whanganui (42), Taranaki (123), Tairāwhiti (46), Wairarapa (42), Capital and Coast (396), Hutt Valley (172), Nelson Marlborough (191), Canterbury (654), South Canterbury (60), Southern (411) and West Coast (30). The origin of one person newly infected with the virus is not known.

Fifty new cases of the virus were also discovered at the border.

The total number of people in the community with Covid-19 today 36,061 and just over 1.26 million people have been infected with the virus in New Zealand since the pandemic began.

There were 10,179 rapid antigen test and 3634 PCR results reported in the last 24 hours.

The seven-day rolling average for PCR tests is 3427.

Of those in hospital, most are in Auckland district health boards’ hospitals, with 42 in Waitematā, 41 in Counties Manukau and 67 in Auckland.

The other hospitalisations are in Northland (9), Waikato (24), Bay of Plenty (16), Lakes (1), Tairāwhiti (2), Hawke’s Bay (7), Taranaki (12), Whanganui (2), MidCentral (29), Wairarapa
(2), Hutt Valley (27), Capital and Coast (14), Nelson Marlborough (6), Canterbury (29), South Canterbury (3) and Southern (23).

There is no one in hospital with Covid-19 on the South Island’s West Coast.

Of those admitted to hospitals in Auckland, Canterbury, Southern, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Capital and Coast, Waitemata and Northland district health board areas, 15.6 per cent were unvaccinated or not eligible for vaccination.

Just over 1 per cent were partially immunised and 19.1 per cent had received two vaccinations at least seven days before being reported as a case.

Sixty-four per cent of new admissions were boosted.

Vaccinations continue at a trickle, with 24 first doses, 42 second doses; 41 third primary doses and 901 booster doses given yesterday.

There were also 45 paediatric first doses and 427 paediatric second doses given to 5- to 11-year-olds.

Nationally, 95.2 per cent of over 12s are double-dosed, while 72.8 per cent of the eligible over 18 population has received a booster.

The Māori vaccination rate is 88.4 per cent double-dosed and 55.8 per cent of those eligible are boosted.

For 16- to 17 year olds, 12.3 per cent of those eligible across the country are boosted, falling to 6 per cent for Māori.

Rates for Tamariki Māori also lag behind the overall population, with just 12.8 per cent of those aged 5 to 11 having received two vaccinations. Nationally, the double-dosed rate for 5-11s is 26.5 per cent.

Today’s Covid-19 numbers come as unions warn a severe nursing shortage across the country is becoming a “crisis”.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation said the country’s “horrendous” nursing shortage was leaving those in the sector burnt-out and worried they were being stretched too thin to keep patients safe.

The group said hospitals around the country were swamped with a mix of Covid-19 patients and others with winter illnesses.

There was also a fear some nurses were leaving New Zealand for higher pay in Australia at a time when the state of New South Wales was looking to recruit.

The shortage also comes amid reports a 50-year-old woman died with a brain bleed after allegedly being told by staff at Middlemore Hospital’s emergency department there would be an eight-hour wait before she was examined.

“The fewer nurses there are, the more likely [it is] that the workloads increase,” NZNO president Anne Daniels said.

“Right now, we have an extremely exhausted, burnt-out, morally injured workforce of nurses who, when they go to work, know they are not going to have the number of staff they need to work with in a team to keep themselves and their patients safe, and the likelihood of them making mistakes in that context increases as well.”

Waikato DHB – with an emergency department that has been operating near capacity for the past fortnight – has around 215 nursing vacancies, which is 5 per cent of its workforce. Canterbury DHB, with 180 empty positions, also has a 5 per cent vacancy rate.

Of the country’s five biggest DHBs, Counties Manukau has the largest vacancy rate at 17 per cent or 347 vacant positions. Waitematā and Auckland DHBs have vacancy rates of 3 per cent and 6.5 per cent.

The Ministry of Health said health workforce shortages were a global issue and addressing New Zealand’s nursing shortages and providing a safe work environment was a priority.

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