In today’s statement, the Ministry of Health said there were 350 people in hospital, up from 339 yesterday, with 17 people in ICU.
It said a person who travelled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.5 variant of Omicron – the first known detection of the variant in this country.
“The person arrived in New Zealand from South Africa on 26 April, returned a positive RAT from their day 5/6 test on 1 May and a positive PCR sample taken on 2 May and the result reported the following day. Whole genome sequencing was undertaken as part of ongoing border surveillance for emerging variants and subsequently confirmed the BA.5 variant.
“The person followed all testing and reporting requirements, allowing this new sub-variant to be identified quickly, and has now completed their isolation at home.”
The BA.4 was detected earlier this month on 1 May in another person who had travelled from South Africa.
Both of the variants have been reported in Southern Africa and Europe, and also detected in Australia.
The Ministry said the arrival of the BA.5 sub-variant in New Zealand was not unexpected and “underlines the importance of the rapid antigen testing of all arrivals at day 0/1 and day 5/6 followed by a PCR test of any arrivals who test positive which then allows whole genome sequencing to be done”.
It said it could take months to assess the severity of each new variant or sub-variant.
Deaths and cases
Today’s seven-day rolling average of community case numbers was 7510, slightly up on the 7414 reported last week.
Today’s new community cases were reported in the Northland (129), Auckland (1895), Waikato (353), Bay of Plenty (143), Lakes (77), Hawke’s Bay (176), MidCentral (184), Whanganui (69), Taranaki (131), Tairāwhiti (30), Wairarapa (67), Capital and Coast (424), Hutt Valley (206), Nelson Marlborough (189), Canterbury (914), South Canterbury (83), Southern (523) and West Coast (51) DHBs.
There were also 73 cases identified at the border.
The three deaths reported today take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 860.
Two people were from Canterbury and one from MidCentral. Two were in their 80s and one was aged over 90. Two were men and one was a woman.
There were 12 deaths and another 6745 new community cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday.
There have now been 986,261 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would be isolating and working from home for the next week after her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive for the coronavirus.