350 in hospital; three further deaths

By Kelvin McDonald

The Health Ministry is reporting 350 hospitalisations and three further deaths of people with Covid-19 today. 

It says there are also 5,647 new community cases this Sunday. This takes the total number of active community cases across Aotearoa to 52,558.

Last Sunday, the seven-day rolling average of community cases was 7,414 and today it is 7,510.

Two of the people who the ministry says have died were men and one was a woman. Two were in their 80s and one was aged over 90. The ministry says the deaths include people who died over the past three days.

They take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 860. There are currently on average about 16 reported deaths each day.

350 people are in hospital with Covid-19, including 17 who are receiving support in intensive care units. The average age of these people is 59.

Outside of Auckland, most are in hospitals in Canterbury (59), Waikato (30), Bay of Plenty (21), Southern (17) and MidCentral (16) DHB regions.

Border case of new Omicron variant

Today the ministry is reporting the first known detection of the BA.5 variant of Omicron in New Zealand.

The variant was detected through testing of a person who arrived from South Africa on 26 April. The person has now completed their isolation at home.

This follows the detection of another new variant BA.4 on 1 May, also in a person who had travelled to New Zealand from South Africa.

"At this stage, the public health settings already in place to manage other Omicron variants are assessed to be appropriate for managing both BA.4 and BA.5 and no changes are required."

The World Health Organization says vaccination remains effective against these new subvariants.

"It can take weeks or months to assess the severity of each new variant or sub-variant, so the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the emerging evidence closely."