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Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: 5312 cases, 28 deaths, hospital admissions drop below 800; The New Zealand border will reopen to everyone

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Today 5312 new Covid community cases are reported as the number of patients in hospital falls below 800.

A further 28 Covid-related deaths are included in the Department of Health update.

Four of these deaths were from the Auckland area, three from Waikato, two from the Bay of Plenty, two from Lakes, one from Tairāwhiti, three from Hawke’s Bay, three from Taranaki, two from the Wellington area, two were from Nelson Marlborough, four from Canterbury, one from South Canterbury and one from the Southern Region.

Two of the deaths reported today were in their 50s, three in their 60s, four in their 70s, nine in their 80s and ten in their 90s. Twelve were women and 16 men.

A total of 1,502 deaths have been confirmed as being attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor, the ministry said.

Today’s seven-day moving average of community cases is 6990 – last week it was 8498 this time.

There are now 759 people in the hospital, 16 of them in intensive care.

The locations of the cases in the hospital are Northland (13), Waitematā (86), Counties Manukau (79), Auckland (79), Waikato (102), Bay of Plenty (29), Lakes (15) Hawke’s Bay (34), MidCentral (49), Whanganui (11), Taranaki (22), Tairāwhiti (three), Wairarapa (five), Capital & Coast (25), Hutt (seven), Nelson Marlborough (19), Canterbury (124), West Coast (one), South Canterbury (17) and the Southern Region (39).

The weekly moving average of Covid-19 hospitalizations is 799, compared to 768 this time last week.

The median age of cases hospitalized with Covid is 65 years.

Of the 5,312 cases reported in the community today, 269 had recently returned from overseas.

Today’s update comes as New Zealand’s borders have been fully reopened today, allowing anyone from around the world to enter.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported 4238 new Covid cases in the municipality.

The ministry also reported yesterday that the death toll from Covid rose to 1502 on Saturday, up 23 from Friday’s total of 1479.

The hospitalization rate remains high with 806 people hospitalized with the virus on Sunday, including 12 in intensive care.

The number of deaths from Covid-19 also remains high, with 268 deaths reported as being linked to the virus last week.

A total of 1502 Kiwi deaths have been confirmed as being due to Covid.

Borders reopened fully to the world at 11.59pm last night, with the maritime border also opening.

This reopening was the final phase of five.

Any change in the numbers arriving on the country’s shores is expected to start as a trickle.

Before the pandemic, international students and cruise lines were big moneymakers for New Zealand, and the two sectors were eager to welcome people back.

International students had taken in about $5 billion a year, but that number dropped to about $1.3 billion in 2021.

Simon Sanders, head of Immigration New Zealand’s Reconnecting New Zealand unit, said the border changes are a “significant milestone” but it is difficult to predict how many people will come to the country as a result.

“I think it’s safe to say that we don’t expect the same level of demand as we did before Covid. There are probably a number of reasons for this.

“We know that China, which is a larger country that requires a visitor’s visa, is still subject to a number of travel restrictions, so we don’t expect much demand from there, at least initially.”

Sanders said immigration will begin processing visas immediately, with a commitment to process “simple” visitor visas within 20 working days.

But he urged people planning visits next year to wait a bit before applying.

“For students, we encourage those who have study opportunities to apply immediately and we will facilitate them; and for those who might want to study in 2023, give it a few months so we can ensure those who need to travel this year can do so too.”

The Immigration Service had hired 230 staff to process visas, replacing staff from overseas offices that were closed due to the pandemic.

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