The latest COVID-19 case numbers have been released at a press conference featuring COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Dr Bloomfield has just announced his departure from the Director-General of Health role. Also leaving is Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay and Deputy-Director of Public Health Dr Niki Stefanogiannis.
What you need to know:
- Dr Ashley Bloomfield will leave the Director-General of Health role in July. Also leaving is Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay and Deputy-Director of Public Health Dr Niki Stefanogiannis
- COVID vaccine passes and mandates for most workforces were ditched on Monday night.
- All of New Zealand remains in the red traffic light setting.
- New Zealand recorded 12,575 new community COVID cases on Wednesday.
- Fifteen additional deaths of people with COVID-19 were reported.
- Location of Wednesday's community cases: Northland (619), Auckland (2,147), Waikato (1,101), Bay of Plenty (604), Lakes (299), Hawke’s Bay (602), MidCentral (678), Whanganui (321), Taranaki (437), Tairāwhiti (128), Wairarapa (149), Capital and Coast (775), Hutt Valley (464), Nelson Marlborough (436), Canterbury (2,108), South Canterbury (249), Southern (1,368), West Coast (81), Unknown (9)
- There are 654 people in hospitals on Wednesday, including 23 in ICU.
- Locations of hospitalisations: Northland: 25; Waitemata: 100; Counties Manukau: 124; Auckland: 94; Waikato: 57; Bay of Plenty: 36; Lakes: 12; Tairāwhiti: 4; Hawke’s Bay: 25; Taranaki: 15; Whanganui: 8; MidCentral: 18; Wairarapa: 2; Hutt Valley: 15; Capital and Coast: 15; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury: 57; South Canterbury: 8; West Coast: 2; Southern: 24
These live updates have now finished.
3:45pm - Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay and Deputy-Director of Public Health Dr Niki Stefanogiannis are leaving their roles.
Here is what Deputy Director-General Population Health and Prevention Deborah Woodley has to say:
"The Ministry recognises the public health expertise and outstanding service of the Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay and Deputy-Director of Public Health Dr Niki Stefanogiannis particularly over the past two years throughout the pandemic.
"They have also provided public health leadership and advice on a broad range of other public health challenges prior to the emergence of COVID-19.
"The Ministry is in the process of recruiting for a new Director of Public Health but in the interim welcomes Dr Jim Miller from Toi te Ora Public Health, Bay of Plenty DHB from 11 April as Acting Director of Public Health.
"The Ministry also retains significant public health expertise including through two remaining Deputy Directors of Public Health, and other clinical advice on board as part of our broader COVID response.
"The Ministry has also brought in a number of Medical Officers of Health who have expertise in public health, on short term secondments from the sector, which means there remains a number of clinical staff in the sector able to be called on if needed."
1:35pm - The Director-General says he continues to assess what could be done better as part of the COVID-19 response. In hindsight, he believes he should have kept a diary or record of events on different day for future recollection.
Giving advice on a lockdown was a "huge thing", Dr Bloomfield says. Every decision and every piece of advice came with a lot at stake, he says.
1:30pm - Dr Bloomfield says he saw using and normalising te reo Maori throughout his press conferences as critical to his role.
Hipkins says he is staying in the COVID-19 ministerial role for a while yet. There is still work on the traffic light system, future variants and waves of vaccination. He is committed to seeing that through. But New Zealand will eventually reach a point where the COVID-19 response folds back into the business-as-usual health approach, he says.
1:20pm - He is a public servant through and through, Dr Bloomfield says, and that will steer his next steps. He essentially dismisses the idea of running for Parliament. He will think about his next options after finishing in four months.
Dr Bloomfield says the role has been stressful and that's played into his decision to stand down. Being the Director-General of Health is a big task at anytime, he says, and the pandemic has created an extra challenge. But he hasn't being doing it alone, Dr Bloomfield tells reporters. While there has been a burden, he's been uplifted by his colleagues, he says.
He's just tried to be himself, Dr Bloomfield says. He doesn't pay attention to the negative commentary. Much of the feedback he gets is "very gendered" and it's nothing compared to what his female colleagues get.
1:15pm - Hipkins says this could be one of the harder press conferences he and Dr Bloomfield have held.
It is time to "say a very personal thank you" to the Director-General, Hipkins says. Dr Bloomfield has advised the Government at every step of the COVID response. His enormous workload hasn't just been related to COVID-19, but the entire health system. You have saved thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lives, Hipkins tells Dr Bloomfield.
He says he respects Dr Bloomfield's decision to take a break and that New Zealanders will agree he thoroughly deserves that.
Dr Bloomfield says this the right time to step down due our current standing with COVID-19. It is with mixed feelings due to the "fantastic" people he works with. He has received many messages of support for the work his team has done, he says. Dr Bloomfield says knowing how grateful New Zealanders were helped carry him through.
He is very proud of how the health system and public service have worked together to protect New Zealanders, Dr Bloomfield tells reporters. The public service has showed its quality over the last two years. It has protected the health, economy and social fabric of New Zealand.
"There are some moments more memorable than others," he says.
Hitting such high vaccination rates "has been such a highlight".
Hipkins is "sad" but also understanding that Dr Bloomfield deserves a break. The personal sacrifice being involved in the COVID response has been massive, the minister says.
1:10pm - Here's the COVID-19 information from the Ministry of Health:
Today we are sadly reporting the deaths of 15 people with COVID-19. The deaths being reported today include people who have died over the previous four weeks. Delays to reporting can be associated with people dying with COVID-19, rather than from COVID-19, and COVID being discovered only after they have died.
These deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with COVID-19 to 443 and the 7-day rolling average of reported deaths is 18.
Of the people whose deaths we are reporting today, three people were from the Auckland region, five from Waikato, one from Taranaki, one from Whanganui, one from MidCentral, one from Nelson Marlborough, one from West Coast, one from Canterbury, and one from South Canterbury.
Two were in their 60s, two in their 70s, four in their 80s, and seven were over 90.
Six were women and nine were men.
Out of respect, we will be making no further comment.
Vaccinations administered in New Zealand
- Vaccines administered to date: 4,025,689 first doses; 3,975,237 second doses; 34,452 third primary doses; 2,592,636 booster doses: 259,643 paediatric first doses and 93,371 paediatric second doses
- Vaccines administered yesterday: 81 first doses; 182 second doses; 27 third primary doses; 1,621 booster doses; 88 paediatric first doses and 1,243 paediatric second doses
- All Ethnicities (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 4,055,452 first dose (96.4%); 4,004,440 second dose (95.1%), 2,590,320 boosted (72.7% of those eligible)
- Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 520,482 first dose (91.1%); 503,225 second dose (88.1%), 230,194 boosted (57.5% of those eligible)
- Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 281,599 first dose (98.2%); 276,586 second dose (96.5%), 137,151 boosted (59.3% of those eligible)
- 5 to 11-year-olds all ethnicities: 257,498 first dose (54.1%); 91,293 second dose (19.2%)
- 5 to 11-year-olds - Māori: 40,484 first dose (35%); 10,259 second dose (8.9%)
- 5 to 11-year-olds - Pacific Peoples: 23,323 first dose (47.2%); 4,905 second dose (9.9%)
Note that the number for “People vaccinated” differs slightly from “Vaccines administered” as it includes those that have been vaccinated overseas.
Vaccination rates for all DHBs
- Northland DHB: first dose (90.1%); second dose (88%); boosted (69.5%)
- Auckland Metro DHB: first dose (97.2%); second dose (96.1%); boosted (71.3%)
- Waikato DHB: first dose (95.1%); second dose (93.6%); boosted (68.4%)
- Bay of Plenty DHB: first dose (95%); second dose (93.3%); boosted (67.8%)
- Lakes DHB: first dose (93.2%); second dose (91.4%); boosted (68.3%)
- MidCentral DHB: first dose (96.5%); second dose (95.2%); boosted (74.1%)
- Tairāwhiti DHB: first dose (93.2%); second dose (90.9%); boosted (68.2%)
- Whanganui DHB: first dose (91.9%); second dose (90.4%); boosted (73.4%)
- Hawke’s Bay DHB: first dose (97.1%); second dose (95.4%); boosted (71.9%)
- Taranaki DHB: first dose (94.6%); second dose (93.2%); boosted (70%)
- Wairarapa DHB: first dose (96.4%); second dose (94.9%); boosted (74.8%)
- Capital & Coast DHB: first dose (98.5%); second dose (97.8%); boosted (81.1%)
- Hutt Valley DHB: first dose (96.6%); second dose (95.6%); boosted (76.9%)
- Nelson Marlborough DHB: first dose (96.4%); second dose (95.2%); boosted (75.4%)
- West Coast DHB: first dose (92.6%); second dose (91.1%); boosted (73.4%)
- Canterbury DHB: first dose (99.7%); second dose (98.8%); boosted (75.9%)
- South Canterbury DHB: first dose (94.9%); second dose (93.8%); boosted (76.4%)
- Southern DHB: first dose (98.4%); second dose (97.3%); boosted (74.9%)
Partially and second doses percentages are for those 12+. Boosted percentages are for 18+ who have become eligible 3 months after having their second dose
Percentages are based on 2020 HSU data - a health-specific population denominator. As the population continues to change over time, coverage rates can exceed 100%.
- Cases in hospital: total number 654: Northland: 25; Waitemata: 100; Counties Manukau: 124; Auckland: 94; Waikato: 57; Bay of Plenty: 36; Lakes: 12; Tairāwhiti: 4; Hawke’s Bay: 25; Taranaki: 15; Whanganui: 8; MidCentral: 18; Wairarapa: 2; Hutt Valley: 15; Capital and Coast: 15; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury: 57; South Canterbury: 8; West Coast: 2; Southern: 24
- *Average age of current hospitalisations: 57
- Cases in ICU or HDU: 23
- Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region only, excluding Emergency Departments): Unvaccinated or not eligible (44 cases / 13.34%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (10 cases / 3.03%); double vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (67 cases / 20.3%); Received booster at least 7 days before being reported as a case (80 cases / 24.24%); unknown (129 cases / 39.09%)
*Please note the average age of current hospitalisations is for the Northern Region admissions only at this stage. This data is recorded and extracted from the same source as the vaccination status of patients in Northern Region hospitals.
We are currently working on a data solution which would include the average age of current hospitalisations from additional DHBs.
- Seven day rolling average of community cases: 12,307
- Seven day rolling average (as at same day last week): 14,969
- Number of new community cases: 12,575
- Number of new community cases (PCR): 298
- Number of new community cases (RAT): 12,277
- Location of new community cases (PCR & RAT): Northland (619), Auckland (2,147), Waikato (1,101), Bay of Plenty (604), Lakes (299), Hawke’s Bay (602), MidCentral (678), Whanganui (321), Taranaki (437), Tairāwhiti (128), Wairarapa (149), Capital and Coast (775), Hutt Valley (464), Nelson Marlborough (436), Canterbury (2,108), South Canterbury (249), Southern (1,368), West Coast (81), Unknown (9)
- Number of new cases identified at the border: 43
- Number of active community cases (total): 86,122 (cases identified in the past 7 days and not yet classified as recovered)
- Confirmed cases (total): 728,764
Please note, the Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO.
- Number of PCR tests total (last 24 hours): 7,727
- Number of Rapid Antigen Tests reported total (last 24 hours): 24,520
- PCR tests rolling average (last 7 days): 4,015
- Number of Rapid Antigen Tests dispatched (last 7 days as of 5 April 2022): 3 million
1:05pm - Speaking at the press conference, Hipkins says this is the "first episode of the final season of the Ash and Chippy show".
There are 12,575 new community cases, Hipkins says. The rolling seven-day average has fallen again. There are 654 people in hospital, 23 of whom are in ICU. There are 15 further deaths of people with COVID-19.
Dr Bloomfield tells reporters the health sector is gearing up to prepare for the winter ahead, with COVID cases as well as infectious diseases like influenza and RSV. There is a possibility of measles coming across the border, he says. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will help protect communities, he says.
COVID has reminded us about the importance of basic health measures, Dr Bloomfield says. Simple actions make a difference. These include washing hands and staying home if sick. These measures are important for COVID as well as other illnesses.
1pm - The livestream is now in the video above. Refresh the page if you can't see it.
12:45pm - Kiwis aged 16 and 17 will be able to receive a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine from Thursday if it is six months after completing their primary course. Here's what the Government has to say:
This follows Medsafe's provisional approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) as a booster dose for this age group.
"This decision is great news and means that from tomorrow, around 36,000 rangatahi aged 16 and 17 years will be eligible to receive a booster dose," Chris Hipkins said.
"They can do this by visiting any walk-in vaccination clinic around the country.
"A booster dose is particularly recommended for 16- and 17-year-olds who're at higher risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalisation. This includes those who're immunocompromised or living with a family member who is immunocompromised, and Māori and Pacific rangatahi.
"Decisions like this are another important step in helping us protect all New Zealanders, especially as we get closer to the winter months.
"We know that over time, immunity to the virus wanes, so getting the booster gives the best protection against COVID-19.
"This is also a reminder to any New Zealander who hasn't yet had their booster, that even if you've already had COVID-19, getting a booster at least 3 months after you test positive helps reduce the risk of being re-infected and passing it on to others.
"It also reduces the chances of you becoming very ill and ending up in hospital.
"This decision on booster doses for our young people protects more New Zealanders from the risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
"I also want to recognise the team at Medsafe who've worked hard to assess all COVID-19 vaccine applications.
"Medsafe follows a robust approval process to ensure all the vaccines we use in New Zealand meet acceptable standards for safety, quality and efficacy."
12:40pm - If you're just catching up, Dr Bloomfield has resigned from his top health role, effective from the end of July.
According to a statement from the Public Service Commission, Dr Bloomfield signalled late last year that he intended to step down before his term was scheduled to end on June 11, 2023. He will finish in the role at the end of July, meaning he is leaving nearly a year early.
In a statement, Dr Bloomfield said it has "been a huge privilege to be appointed to the Director-General of Health role and I've committed myself wholeheartedly to the role for nearly four years".
"The DG role is complex and challenging at any time and, with a one in 100 years pandemic, the last two years have been particularly challenging and intense.
"I've done everything I set out to do when I came into the role. I would not have been able to do this without the support of many highly committed and talented people in the Ministry and across the wider health system.
12:30pm - Kia ora and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Wednesday.
We will soon bring you the latest COVID-19 data, which is expected to be released at 1pm alongside a press conference from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Dr Bloomfield on Wednesday confirmed he is leaving the role in July.