New Zealand COVID-19: Community cases dip to 2365 but two people die, one in intensive care

Community case numbers fell to 2365 on Monday after a record high of 2522 on Sunday.
Community case numbers fell to 2365 on Monday after a record high of 2522 on Sunday. Photo credit: Getty Images

Daily COVID-19 community cases dipped to 2365 on Monday but two people died, another was placed in the intensive care unit (UCI) and hospitalisations climbed again.

New Zealand recorded its biggest day of community cases ever on Sunday, with numbers rising to 2522.

But while that figure fell by more than 150 on Monday, that's where the good news ended, with the Ministry of Health confirming the deaths of two people with COVID-19 in Auckland.

The first was a patient at Middlemore Hospital, and the other a patient in their 70s at Auckland City Hospital.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with both patients' family and friends," the ministry said in a statement.

The deaths take New Zealand's death toll to 55 since the pandemic first arrived on our shores in early 2020. It's not known if they are the first Omicron deaths as the ministry didn't say, but Omicron overtook Delta to become by far the most common variant early this year.

In addition to the deaths, hospitalisations rose from 100 to 116 nationwide and a COVID-19 patient was placed in ICU.

There have now been more than 2.1 million booster shots administered across the country, with more than 15,000 people getting their third jab on Sunday.

Monday morning saw the arrival of rapid antigen tests (RATs) at Auckland community testing centres to those who fit the appropriate clinical criteria. The site will determine whether a RAT or PCR test is best for each person.

"Access to rapid antigen tests will be expanded further during the coming week," the ministry pledged.

"At this time, please do not visit your GP for a RAT test or call them for guidance on RAT eligibility at Community Testing Centres. We will be providing further updates on the rollout throughout this week.

"As the outbreak grows, more people will have COVID-19 and there will be more close contacts we need to test. As planned, we will now increase the use of RATs in phase 2 and phase 3 of our response in order to relieve pressure on the PCR testing and reserve it for those most likely to have COVID-19."