Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Cases not dropping in older at risk groups

Covid cases are dropping amongst children, but older Kiwis are still at risk as the New Zealand winter and flu season nears.

Despite the flattening out of case numbers Canterbury University modeller Professor Michael Plank said the ages of those infected was concerning.

He told TVNZ Breakfast case numbers were still high in the older at-risk groups.

“We know older people are at much, much higher risk of getting seriously ill and at risk of death.

“And what we’re seeing is that case numbers have dropped sharply in those younger age groups but they’ve actually stayed high or they’ve dropped much more slowly in those older age groups.

“I think that’s contributing to keeping our hospital numbers high and
keeping our deaths high.”

Plank told the show it was “a concerning trend” that was evident in the hospitalisation and recent deaths.

On average there are 12 Covid-related deaths per day in New Zealand.

The relaxation of Covid mandates under the orange traffic light setting combined with the opening of borders and the onset of winter meant there could be a bump in cases, Plank said.

“I don’t know if we will see a full-blown second wave at this stage but I do think we have to be prepared that case numbers will stay relatively high in the winter period, possibly in the thousands.

“It’s possible we will have a second wave as immunity wanes in winter or maybe in spring.”

New Zealand was at high risk of a bad flu season because, with closed borders, Kiwis hadn’t been exposed to the flu virus for two years.

On top of that Plank warned New Zealand needed to be prepared for the possibility of a new variant “that comes out of nowhere and takes the world by storm”.

Vaccine expert Helen Petoussis-Harris said Covid restrictions meant there was no exposure to the usual respiratory viruses that continually boost our immunity.

“This year it could be payback time for the holiday we had from influenza and some other nasties.”

She urged people to get vaccinated against other infectious diseases not caused by viruses that were particularly dangerous such as whooping cough and pneumococcal disease.

“These could both be more prevalent this winter,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Waikato DHB is offering free influenza and MMR immunisations alongside the Covid vaccine at its community vaccination sites.

GPs and pharmacies in the region are also providing vaccination services for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), influenza and whooping cough.

“Our borders being closed for two years protected us from influenza, but now they’ve re-opened we will be exposed to new flu variants along with other viruses such as measles,” said Dr Felicity Dumble, WDHB medical officer of health.

“We need vaccination rates of 95 per cent to reach ‘community immunity’ sometimes known as ‘herd immunity’ to help prevent outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.”

Flu shots are free for those aged 65 and over, Māori and Pacific people aged 55 and over, adults with health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, children aged 4 years or under who have a history of significant respiratory illness, and pregnant women.

Teenagers aged 16 or 17 can now get a Covid-19 booster, 6 months after completing their primary course, from any of the multi-vaccination sites.

Those who contracted Covid-19 during the latest outbreak will begin to become eligible for their boosters also, following a three-month stand-down to recover from the virus.

For information on booster vaccinations visit:Get your vaccine booster

For information on Influenza vaccinations visit:

Source: Read Full Article