News Coronavirus NZ reducing COVID isolation, records four deaths

NZ reducing COVID isolation, records four deaths

New Zealand COVID-19 cases
About four per cent of New Zealand's population has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 10 days. Photo: AAP
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New Zealand has recorded four new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the country’s death toll to 76.

Two were in the Rotorua-based Lakes region, one was in the northeast Tairawhiti region, and another was in South Auckland.

On Wednesday, health officials announced another 22,454 community cases.

Around four per cent of New Zealand’s entire population has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 10 days and are considered an active case.

More are believed to have it, and not know.

The Ministry of Health also confirmed at least 742 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 19 in intensive care.

That figure does not include updated data for Auckland or Northland, which makes up around 40 per cent of the population.

With surging case counts, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has shortened the mandatory isolation period for COVID-19 cases and their household contacts.

Kiwis will now have to self-isolate for seven days rather than 10.

“High case numbers and household contacts, and the current 10-day isolation requirement, is having a wider impact on many parts of our lives,” Mr Hipkins said.

“There needs to be a balance between effectively controlling the outbreak and the flow-on effect for business and essential goods and services such as transport and food supply.”

That also extends to the over-stretched health system, with some COVID-positive nurses and doctors being asked to go to work if they feel up to it.

The union has lashed the measure as putting pressure on sick workers, but Mr Hipkins defended the call.

“Every health system around the world … has struggled dealing with COVID-19 infections within their workforce,” he said.

“Allowing health workers to go back to work (with COVID-19 would happen) in extreme examples.

“The types of examples would be if you’re on a COVID ward with only COVID-positive people … or a surgeon who is the only person who can perform a particular life saving operation.

“It will be the staff member’s choice.”