Lowest number of new Covid cases since February

Covid-19 cases have dropped below 1000 for the first time since mid-February.

The Ministry of Health reported 981 new cases today. The last time Aotearoa had fewer than 1000 cases was on February 15, when 744 daily cases were reported.

Of the new cases, 92 were reinfections and 30 were reinfections within 90 days.

There were also 70 cases detected at the border.

Case numbers have been steadily declining in recent weeks, with the Ministry of Health saying last week the latest evidence showed “real and sustained evidence of Covid-19 declining in our community”.

There were six deaths of people with Covid-19 today – one was in their 70s and five were in their 80s. Four were women and two were men. Three were from the Auckland region, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Nelson Marlborough, one was from Canterbury.

The number of deaths attributed to the virus remains unchanged at 1950.

Today’s numbers come as New Zealand could soon be ditching Covid-19 restrictions as infection and hospitalisation rates are the lowest they’ve been in seven months.

Govt set to decide on scrapping traffic light system, other orders

The Government will decide on Monday whether to scrap the whole traffic light system and other Covid-19 orders, a decision that would see the remaining restrictions such as mask mandates gone by Wednesday and end more than two years of Covid-19 rules.

The Herald understands Cabinet on Monday will be deciding on a recommendation to scrap the traffic-light system altogether rather than tweaking the settings or moving to green.

If it goes ahead, it would come into effect as soon as Wednesday – when the main legal instrument under which the Covid-19 orders are issued will expire if Cabinet decides not to renew it.

That Epidemic Preparedness (Covid-19) Notice 2020 is one of the over-arching legal instruments under which the Government and health authorities have exercised special powers in the Covid-19 response: including the traffic light system. If not renewed, all orders associated with it will also lapse.

The notice has been renewed every three months since it was put in place in March 2020 and requires the Prime Minister to state she is satisfied the effects of the outbreak are likely to continue to disrupt essential governmental and business activity in New Zealand “significantly.”

That decision is based on consultation with the Minister of Health and the director-general of health. It is understood Cabinet was still getting some advice from health officials, but the recommendation to Cabinet is that it could end.

Ministers have increasingly questioned the ongoing effectiveness and palatability of Covid-19 restrictions, and pointed to waning public compliance and support for measures such as masking, and whether that has dropped to the extent that the rules are futile.

If Cabinet gives it the nod, Covid-19 would be treated similar to the way the flu is managed.

 – Additional reporting NZ Herald

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