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NZ reports another 10 COVID-19 deaths

New Zealand has recorded another 10 COVID-19 deaths, taking its death toll to 151.

The Omicron wave sweeping the country has produced more deaths in the past month than the rest of the pandemic combined.

According to the health ministry, at least 83 people have died with, or of, COVID-19 in the past four weeks.

Thursday’s reported deaths included five from Auckland, and one from Wellington, the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Northland.

There are a record number of patients in intensive care, with 23 reported on Thursday.

However, the number of hospitalisations dropped meaningfully for the first time since February 10.

On Wednesday, 971 people were in Kiwi hospitals, which dropped to 930 on Thursday.

“We’re still right in the middle of a big outbreak with around 20,000 cases a day,” Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB.

“Auckland is clearly on the way down, a much lower number than they’re having each day.”

Dr Bloomfield said hospital workers were seriously under stress.

“We’ve got nearly 1000 people in hospitals around the country which shows there is a lot of this out there,” he said.

“Nearly 1000 people in hospital who pre-COVID would not have been in hospital.

“And staff are at home because they are cases or are household contacts or they’re looking after family members. There is a lot of stress on the system.”

The COVID-19 debate in New Zealand has moved to when the government will remove restrictions on unvaccinated Kiwis, including the vaccine pass system that prevents them from non-essential businesses.

Dr Bloomfield said he had not yet given the government advice it was safe to do so, wanting to see a reduction in cases and hospitalisations.

In Thursday’s figures, 50 per cent of reported rapid antigen tests were positive.

“We’d like to see that going down,” Dr Bloomfield said.

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