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The Ministry of Health has reported 1110 new cases of Covid-19 and three more virus-related deaths in Canterbury.
Across New Zealand, 7591 new community cases - including 136 in South Canterbury - 355 people in hospital with the virus and 16 further deaths were announced on Thursday.
Of today's reported deaths, three were from Canterbury, seven were from the Auckland region, three were from the Wellington region, one was from Lakes, one was from Bay of Plenty, and one was from Southern. Two people were their 60s, two were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90. Nine were female and seven were male.
The total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1102 and the seven-day rolling average is 12.
Of the 355 people in hospital with the virus, 12 are in intensive care, 44 are in Canterbury DHB hospitals and 12 are in South Canterbury hospitals.
The other cases in hospital are in Northland: 11; Waitemata: 39; Counties Manukau: 21; Auckland: 57; Waikato: 25; Bay of Plenty: 8; Lakes: 5; Tairāwhiti: 1; Hawke’s Bay: 19; Taranaki: 8; Whanganui: 5; MidCentral: 18; Wairarapa: 2; Hutt Valley: 34; Capital and Coast: 32; Nelson Marlborough: 9; West Coast: 1; and Southern: 35.
The seven-day rolling average of new community cases today is 7095 - while last Thursday it was 7981. In a week, the seven-day rolling average of cases has decreased by more than 900.
Today's new community cases are in Northland (220), Auckland (2,520), Waikato (566), Bay of Plenty (221), Lakes (122), Hawke's Bay (211), MidCentral (258), Whanganui (91), Taranaki (250), Tairāwhiti (52), Wairarapa (77), Capital and Coast (538), Hutt Valley (220), Nelson Marlborough (308), Canterbury (1,110), South Canterbury (136), Southern (589), West Coast (95). The locations of seven cases are unknown.
In the New Zealand community, there are now 49,645 active cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,124,908 cases of the virus in New Zealand.
The average age of those hospitalised is 59.
While the detection yesterday of a new variant of Omicron in the community was not anything to panic about, one expert says it's a reminder the pandemic is not over and should be taken seriously.
The ministry reported the first community case of the subvariant BA.2.12.1 in Hawke's Bay with no clear link to the border. It said the leak of the subvariant into the community was not unexpected.
"It's not a game-changer, it's not like Omicron was where all of a sudden we're going to get a massive peak [in cases] because of it," said Dr David Welch, senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's school of computer science.
Welch said the new subvariant was expected to become the dominant variant within, perhaps, a few months.
"It's not [a] panic station. I don't think anyone is going to be calling for a change in the alert level or anything like that. But it's another reminder this pandemic is far from over and while this disease is here with us, we need to take it seriously," he said.
University of Otago evolutionary virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan said BA.2.12.1 had around a 10 per cent "growth advantage" over B.A.2, which meant it could infect people more efficiently.
Anything with a growth advantage could be expected to replace previous variants circulating in the community and could lead to an increase in cases.
Additionally, Omicron subvariants BA.4 and/or BA.5 have been detected in wastewater samples at Rosedale, on Auckland's North Shore, and in Gisborne.