8182 new Covid cases, 13 deaths braces for a winter with ‘lots of Covid’

There are 8182 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

A further 13 people with Covid-19 have died over the past five days, the Ministry of Health reported in a statement.

There are 373 cases in hospital, including eight people in intensive care.

The Covid-related deaths reported today included a person in their 40s, two people in their 70s, five people in their 80s and five people aged over 90.

Four people were from the Auckland region, two were from Canterbury, and one each from Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley, Capital and Coast, Nelson Marlborough, and Southern.

“This is a very sad time for whānau and friends and our thoughts and condolences are with them,” the health ministry said.

The total number of reported deaths with Covid-19 in New Zealand is 1185 and the seven-day rolling average is 14.

For community cases, the seven-day rolling average today is 6893; this time last week it was 7308.

The locations of today’s community cases are Northland (223), Auckland (2534), Waikato (623), Bay of Plenty (245), Lakes (99), Hawke’s Bay (208), MidCentral (335), Whanganui (105), Taranaki (234), Tairāwhiti (45), Wairarapa (60), Capital and Coast (716), Hutt Valley (286), Nelson Marlborough (334), Canterbury (1322), South Canterbury (146), Southern (592) and the West Coast (69).

The locations of six cases is unknown.

Stay home if you’re sick, get vaccinated, and try your local pharmacy before heading to the doctor or emergency department – those are the messages as New Zealand prepares for this winter’s ills and chills.

The Ministry of Health’s Winter Wellness Campaign is launching today, with health professionals focused on helping Kiwis navigate what could be a rough winter this year.

One of the key messages from Dr Joe Bourne and pharmacist Anna Kurth is to spread the load amongst health providers.

Today marks the first day of winter, with the industry expecting to see more colds and cases of flu, as well as an increase in skin infections and winter sport injuries.

“All those things can be looked after in the pharmacy,” Kurth said. “There’s no need to overload other health systems with those, so it’s quite good to pop in and see your pharmacist first.”

The pair stressed that it was important not to risk infecting others at the pharmacy with a contagious illness, however, and reminded people they could also ring the pharmacy for advice.

Many pharmacies offered delivery services so sick people could avoid leaving the house.

Bourne said local pharmacies were “really an excellent resource”, and noted there were other allied health services people could visit directly without a doctor referral, such as physiotherapists for injuries.

The campaign has been set up to “help New Zealanders really prepare for the winter and make sure that they have got themselves as ready as possible for any infections they might get”, Bourne said.

“It’s really important for us to plan now, particularly as we’re entering our first winter where we’re going to see lots of Covid in the community as well as other winter illnesses like influenza and colds.”

This would also be the first winter since the pandemic started where New Zealand’s borders were open, meaning other illnesses not seen for sometime could creep in.

Bourne said the risk of monkeypox hitting the community was low, but the Ministry of Health was monitoring the situation.

He urged Kiwis to continue wearing masks around others, coughing into elbows, washing their hands, and staying home if they were unwell – even if they had returned a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

“Lots of people like to soldier on but actually if you give yourself the time to rest from any infections… You will get better quicker.”

These actions not only helped protect the individual, but also helped protect vulnerable members of the community, he said.

Kurth said they were already seeing an increase in coughs and colds, as well as “heavy colds that are mimicking influenza”.

Making sure people were up to date with Covid and flu vaccines, as well as childhood immunizations, would help prevent some illnesses.

They also encouraged people to make sure they had medications at home already in a first aid or “wellness kit”. People could visit their local pharmacy for help putting one together.

Kurth noted medications could expire year to year, so it was important people made sure their kits at home were up to date.

The Ministry of Health also announced yesterday access to treatment for Covid would be widened, with dedicated pharmacists now able to prescribe antiviral medicines.

Medicines added to the pharmacist prescriber medicine list includes nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (Paxlovid ™) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®), which are already being prescribed by other prescribers in New Zealand.

Both these medicines can be taken orally at home and are for people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms, and are at a higher risk of hospitalization including Māori and Pacific peoples, those with complex health needs, the elderly and unvaccinated populations , and people with disabilities.

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