The number of new community Covid-19 cases has risen once again, as the Ministry of Health warns of a winter surge in respiratory illnesses.
There are 9,629 community cases today, with the rolling seven-day average of cases up to 7,246. Last Tuesday it was 5,480.
“The rise in Covid-19 cases today is not unexpected as New Zealand moves towards the winter peak for respiratory illness, including Covid-19,” said the ministry, in its 1pm statement. “In addition, it is not unusual for reported cases to rise following a weekend. It is encouraging that people are uploading their test results in My Covid Record, and the Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand would like to remind people to continue to do this.”
Hospitalisations have also risen slightly, to 493. There are now 11 people in intensive care.
Another 24 deaths have been reported of people with Covid-19, all since April 14. That takes the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,591 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 15.
New omicron subvariant confirmed in NZ
The ministry has confirmed the first two community cases of omicron subvariant BA.2.75, a second generation subvariant of the dominant BA.2 strain of Covid-19.
“At this stage, there is no evidence that BA.2.75 requires a shift in public health settings already in place to manage other omicron variants,” said the ministry. “BA.2.75 has only been recently identified as distinct from BA.2, and evidence on its transmissibility, immune evasiveness and severity is still preliminary and emerging.”
The two cases arrived from India, where the subvariant has been detected previously.
“We do know BA.2.75 has some characteristics that looks like they may enhance its ability to evade immunity, similar to the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, and there is some early evidence overseas that it may be slightly more transmissible that BA.2,” said the ministry. “There is no current evidence that it leads to more severe disease, although assessing the evidence is at a very early stage.”