Nearly one-quarter of the MidCentral Health district’s population have reported positive Covid-19 test results so far in the outbreak.
Senior medical officer Kelvin Billinghurst said Omicron was now endemic in the community, to be managed like any other winter infection or respiratory condition.
The district health board would no longer be reporting daily on case numbers, although numbers, hospitalisations and deaths would still be available on the Ministry of Health website.
More than 42,000 people across the district had reported positive tests.
One person was admitted to hospital, either because of the virus or happening to have it as well as the issue that prompted admission, for about every 140 cases.
Billinghurst said case numbers were trending down across all localities and ethnic groups across the district.
On Friday, there were 273 new cases, with 12 people in hospital. The total number of active cases was 1365, including 763 in Palmerston North, 258 in Manawatū, 182 in Horowhenua, 90 in Tararua and 72 in Ōtaki.
Although public reporting on case numbers would happen just once a week from June 13, Billinghurst said managers would continue to track incidence closely.
“If there is a significant unexpected increase or decrease in cases, or cases increase substantially in one of our localities, we are committed to updating the community as soon as possible.”
Billinghurst said the lessons learned in managing Covid-19 would be applied to helping stop the spread of other infections.
Influenza A was already on the rise around the country, putting pressure on primary care and hospital emergency departments.
“The same messages used for protecting with Covid-19 apply to winter illnesses – mask wearing, cough etiquette and social distancing.”
He said people should do all they could to look after their health – to stay active, keep warm, and have a winter wellness kit ready for when it was needed.
Most people who became unwell would be able to manage at home, and to get over-the-counter medicines from their local pharmacist.
Flu vaccinations were highly recommended, especially for the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
Covid-19 vaccinations were also encouraged for children. Billinghurst said there had been a lot of cases in younger age groups.
Billinghurst said visitors to the hospital should be aware of the expectation to wear masks.
Visiting to ward 23, which was not the specialist Covid-19 ward, had been restricted during the week because several patients there had tested positive.
“Our experiences with Covid-19 have taught us a lot about how effective public health measures can be at protecting us from airborne viruses – so let’s take what we’ve learned and do our bit to keep our community as healthy as we can,” Billinghurst said.