• NZ's first community case of Omicron subvariant detected in Hawke's Bay

NZ's first community case of Omicron subvariant detected in Hawke's Bay

A Hawke's Bay resident has tested positive for the new Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 - the first case without a clear link to the border to be discovered in the New Zealand community. 

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said it was from a test result returned on May 10.

"We are today reporting our first case of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in a community case, without a clear link to the border, in Hawke's Bay from a test result returned on 10 May 2022.

"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 emerging data suggested BA.2.12.1 was marginally more transmissible than the subvariants currently circulating in New Zealand.

"Our genomic surveillance [genomes and wastewater] remains in place to study any new variants and track their spread."

Hawke's Bay has 217 new Covid-19 cases in the community, and 19 people in hospital. 

Nationally, there were 8150 new Covid-19 community cases, and 11 deaths including a child under the age of 10.

The people whose deaths were reported today had died in the past 10 days, apart from one death on May 6 and one death on April 11.

The total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 is 1086 and the seven-day rolling average is 10.

Of the people whose deaths are reported today, two were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Taranaki, one was from Hawke's Bay, one was from MidCentral, three were from Canterbury and one was from Southern.

One person was aged under 10, one was in their 30s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and four were aged over 90.

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.

However, the Ministry of Health said the presence of these subvariants in the community was not unexpected.

"The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are being monitored by the World Health Organisation; to date, compared to BA.2, there is clinical data to suggest an increased transmissibility but no data suggesting it causes more severe illness.

The ministry said as with all variants of Omicron, the public health advice remained the same. Getting boosted remained one of the best defences against Covid.