Covid-19: Expert urges against complacency over holidays as death toll reaches 50


An epidemiologist is urging people not to get complacent over the holidays about Covid-19 measures, as the country’s death toll from the virus reaches 50.

Hospitals set up in preparation for Covid-19

Yesterday the Ministry of Health reported that a Covid-19 patient in their 50s who was admitted to hospital on 11 December died.(File image) Photo: Ministry of Health / Supplied

Yesterday, another person with Covid-19 died. Nearly half of the 50 deaths have occurred in the past four months, as a result of the ongoing Delta outbreak.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker said every death was tragic.

“That is a sad milestone … and 50 deaths is, of course, too many,” he said.

Although in a global context, New Zealanders have a lot to be thankful for, he said.

“This still means that New Zealand has by far the lowest mortality rate in the OECD, and it is several hundred fold less than in most high-income countries.

“We can be grateful … that as a nation we have really gotten behind this cohesive, responsible approach which is mostly about looking after our family members and our wider community.

“We have a lot to be thankful for at this point.”

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Epidemiologist Michael Baker Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

While Dr Baker hoped New Zealanders had a chance to enjoy the festive season, he urged for people not to take a break from Covid-19 measures.

“I really hope that New Zealanders do take this time to have a relaxing, enjoyable holiday without getting complacent.

“We do know that to stay in this position requires a continued effort from everyone.”

Moving forward, he said New Zealand still had work to do on the equity of health services.

“The big feature to always think about is equity. We still have an unequal response, we still have Māori and Pasifika overrepresented amongst the cases and there’s still an immunity gap, a vaccination gap.”

Despite the obstacles, he said we were getting there.

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