New Zealand hits dire Covid milestone as outbreak balloons

New Zealand has hit an unwelcome Covid-19 milestone, recording more than 1000 cases in a single day for the first time.

On Tuesday, health authorities reported 1160 community cases of the virus, including 861 in Auckland.

The previous record was 981 cases, recorded on Monday.

The growing number of cases has prompted a shift in management.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces the country will move to a COVID red traffic light setting during a press conference. Source: Mark Mitchell/NZME via AP
New Zealand has recorded more than 1000 Covid cases in a single day for the first time. Source: Mark Mitchell/NZME via AP

From today, people testing positive to Covid-19 will not be called by health professionals or contact tracers, but instead given a text message with information on self-isolation rules and how to manage the virus.

Cases will also be asked to fill out an online form which will allow health workers to triage those at the highest risk of being gravely ill, or in need of support.

Worryingly, hospitalisations have also jumped up.

Covid hospitalisations on the rise

While no Kiwis with Covid-19 are being treated in intensive care, there are 59 cases in hospitals across New Zealand, an increase from 40 yesterday and 16 a week ago.

Public health experts have warned of growing hospitalisations during the outbreak, which follows Australia's experience over summer.

They are hopeful New Zealand will avoid the devastating case spikes that occurred the Tasman, with the benefits of keeping Omicron out of the country and upping vaccination rates.

As of Tuesday, 95 per cent of eligible Kiwis are double-dosed, and 62 per cent of those eligible for the booster — just over two million — have received a third dose.

Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the best thing Kiwis can do as cases mount is to get their booster shot and to "give each other some space".

"What we have learned from the overseas evidence and experience is this virus is more infectious and easier to pass on than other variants but overall seems to be having a slightly milder effect on people," he said.

"However, the more people with the infection the greater the likelihood of passing it on to those who we really need to protect, such as people who are immunocompromised and older people, who may become very unwell."

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