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There are 1284 new cases of Covid-19 and three more virus-related deaths in Canterbury today - and New Zealand's first case of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 has been detected.
The Ministry of Health reported 8150 new community cases, 368 people in hospital with the virus and 11 deaths across New Zealand on Wednesday.
Of the deaths reported today, three were from Canterbury, two were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Taranaki, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from MidCentral, and one was from the Southern region. One person was under 10-years-old, one was in their 30s, one in their 60s, one in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90. Six were female and five were male.
Of the 368 cases in hospital today, 11 are in ICU, while 50 cases are in Canterbury DHB hospitals and 17 are in South Canterbury DHB hospitals.
The other cases in hospital are in Northland: 10; Waitemata: 39; Counties Manukau: 23; Auckland: 61; Waikato: 24; Bay of Plenty: 9; Lakes: 1; Tairāwhiti: 1; Hawke’s Bay: 19; Taranaki: 9; Whanganui: 6; MidCentral: 14; Wairarapa: 3; Hutt Valley: 9; Capital and Coast: 33; Nelson Marlborough: 7; West Coast: 1; and Southern: 32.
The seven-day national rolling average of new community case numbers is 7308 - while last Wednesday it was 8024.
Today's new community cases are in Northland (237), Auckland (2617), Waikato (602), Bay of Plenty (270), Lakes (137), Hawke's Bay (217), MidCentral (247), Whanganui (78), Taranaki (249), Tairāwhiti (46), Wairarapa (85), Capital and Coast (632), Hutt Valley (221), Nelson Marlborough (356), Canterbury (1284), South Canterbury (165), Southern (617) and the West Coast (87).
The ministry also announced today that the first case of the BA.2.12.1 variant has been found in a community case with no clear link to the border. The case was in Hawke’s Bay and was found via a test result returned on May 10.
"This Omicron subvariant is prevalent in the USA and has been detected at our border for many weeks - there have been 29 imported cases reported since April, so its movement into the community is not unexpected," the ministry said in a statement.
"Emerging data suggests BA.2.12.1 is marginally more transmissible than the subvariants currently circulating in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Our genomic surveillance (genomes and wastewater) remains in place to study any new variants and track their spread.
"The public health settings already in place to manage other Omicron variants are assessed to be appropriate for managing subvariants present in our community and no changes are required.
Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 update
Meanwhile, the Omicron BA.4 and/or BA.5 subvariants have been detected in wastewater samples at Rosedale on Auckland’s North Shore and in Gisborne.
"The presence of these subvariants in the community is also not unexpected," the ministry said.
"The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are being monitored by the World Health Organization; to date, compared to BA.2, there is clinical data to suggest an increased transmissibility but no data suggesting it causes more severe illness.
"As with all variants of Omicron, the public health advice remains the same. Getting your booster remains one of the best defences against COVID-19. Wear a mask indoors, stay home if you’re unwell, get tested if you’re symptomatic, and get vaccinated.
"The vast majority of recently sequenced cases in New Zealand continue to be of the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, with small number of cases with the BA.1 sub-variant.
"We are continuing to monitor transmission of all variants across the country and internationally.
"These latest detections emphasise the importance of continued wastewater testing, as increasingly ESR sequencing is able to refine what its testing detects.
"The sequencing can determine that either BA.4 or BA.5 subvariant or both may be present but is not able to be more specific at this stage."