There are 5,647 new community cases of Covid-19, while three more people have died from the virus, and 350 hospitalizations.
Someone who has traveled to New Zealand also owns the BA.5 variant of Omicron. It was the first known detection of the variant in New Zealand, the Department of Health announced on Sunday.
The person, who arrived from South Africa on April 26, returned a positive RAT from his day 5/6 test on May 1 and a positive PCR sample taken on May 2.
Whole genome sequencing undertaken as part of continuous border monitoring for emerging variants has confirmed the BA.5 variant, the ministry said.
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The BA.4 variant had also been detected on May 1, also in a person who had traveled from South Africa.
“At this stage, the public health parameters already in place to manage other Omicron variants are deemed appropriate to manage both BA.4 and BA.5 and no changes are necessary,” the ministry said. .
“The arrival of the BA.5 sub-variant in New Zealand is not unexpected and highlights the importance of rapid antigen testing of all arrivals on day 0/1 and day 5/6 followed by a PCR test of all arrivals whose test is positive, which then allows sequencing of the whole genome.
It could take weeks or months to assess the severity of each new variant or sub-variant, and the ministry said it will continue to closely monitor emerging evidence.
The update comes as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern begins her seven-day self-isolation period after her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive for Covid-19.
Ardern said she would self-isolate with Gayford and the couple’s daughter, Neve.
The prime minister would continue to attend parliament and carry out other work remotely, a spokesman said.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry said the seven-day rolling average of community cases was 7,510, down from 7,414 the previous Sunday.
Of the deaths reported in the past three days, two were from Canterbury and one from MidCentral. Two were in their 80s and one was over 90. Two were male and one was female.
The deaths brought the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 860, while the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths was 16, the ministry said.
In the 1 p.m. updates, the Department of Health publishes a total number of people who have died “with Covid” in a given period. This does not necessarily mean that the virus killed these people, it just means that they tested positive within 28 days of death or immediately thereafter.