Saturday, June 15, 2024

Health Ministry to pivot COVID data release

The Ministry of Health is today publishing improved information about the impact of COVID-19 on New Zealanders, including hospitalisations and reinfection.

“Our response to both the current and any future outbreaks depends on a strong understanding of the burden on COVID-19 on our communities, especially when infection leads to severe illness,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“Over recent weeks, the Ministry has been working on expanding what we know about hospitalisation where COVID-19 is an underlying or contributing factor, and clearly distinguishing this from when a person with COVID-19 may have been hospitalised for non-COVID-19 reasons.”

This improved information has been published today.

It shows that, as of 7 July, 8,490 people have been hospitalised from COVID-19, including 305 that have required intensive care.

The data also shows:

  • 1,878 (22%) of people hospitalised from COVID-19 spent less than 24 hours in hospital;
  • The median length of stay for COVID-19 related hospitalisations is 3 days;
  • The hospitalisation rate for over 20 year olds who have been hospitalised from COVID-19 and are not vaccinated is nearly 6 times higher than for people who have been boosted. As our data quality improves over time, this gap between hospitalisation rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated increases;
  • For unvaccinated people hospitalised due to COVID-19, the rate at which they require ICU level care is about double the rate for those who have been boosted.

The Ministry’s focus will now shift from recording hospitalisations of all people with COVID-19, which includes people who have required hospital care for non-COVID-19 reasons, to providing more detailed data on hospitalisation from COVID-19.

This will be reflected on reporting on the Ministry of Health’s website, which previously reported all COVID-19 hospitalisation, regardless of cause.

In addition, following a change in reinfection advice announced last Thursday, it will now be reporting the cumulative number of reinfections to date on the Ministry’s website.

“As of today, since the start of the pandemic, there have been a total of reported 1,403,073 COVID-19 cases, including a total of 14,010 reinfections, 9,573 of which occurred between 29 and 90 days of a previously reported positive test result.”

“Reinfections which happened after 90 days have previously been reported as part of the case total. Previously, in line with the evidence at the time, most new reports of a positive test reported between 29 and 90 days after a previous positive COVID-19 test were not included in our case count, as the second positive result was attached to the earlier case, rather than being counted as a new case.”

As a result of these changes, today’s case numbers include 6,931 additional previous cases arising from positive COVID-19 test results reported between 29 and 90 days after previous positive COVID-19 test. The vast majority of reinfections not previously reported have occurred since the start of the Omicron outbreak, the Ministry said.

Reinfection data will be updated daily in COVID-19 and Vaccine update and hospitalisation data will be update weekly on the website:

In the first instance, hospitalisation data will be provisional for past three months and will be updated as more information become available, the Ministry said.

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