A person with Covid-19 has died, while seventy-seven people are in hospital with the virus, eight in ICU, as New Zealand health officials also grapple with news of a new variant overseas.
The Ministry of Health also announced on Saturday that there are 145 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
Officials are also currently assessing the latest international information on the new B.1.1529 variant, also known as Omicron.
In a statement, the ministry said: “This particular strain is in its infancy and as with any emerging developments to do with Covid-19 we are closely watching and monitoring evidence and countries’ responses.”
”We will advise on any potential impacts for New Zealand, noting that we remain in a good position to minimise the impact of any new variants with isolation and routine testing of international arrivals.”
The Omicron variant, named by the World Health Organisation, has been detected in South Africa and is a “real wake-up call for all of us”, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said on Friday.
Scientists in South Africa have said the new variant was a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people.
Robertson said on Friday that the new variant was evidence the pandemic was not over.
It had not yet been detected in New Zealand, he said.
The ministry said the person with Covid-19 who died, was in Auckland City Hospital.
The patient was in their 80s and was admitted to hospital on November 17.
The 77 cases of people in hospital with Covid-19 were in Auckland (31), Middlemore (28), North Shore (14), Waikato (3), and Rotorua (1).
Of the eight in ICU, seven were in Auckland, while one was the Lakes DHB area (Rotorua).
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To date, 92 per cent of eligible people in New Zealand (those aged 12 and over) have had their first dose of the Covid-19 and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The breakdown of new community cases was: Auckland (127), Waikato (13), Bay of Plenty (4), and Canterbury (1).
Two new cases in Ruakaka. These were reported after the 9am cut-off and will be officially added to the case numbers on Sunday.
A case previously reported in Auckland has been reclassified as a Northland case. They are currently isolating in Kaikohe. The two new cases in Ruakaka are linked to an existing case and have been isolating.
There are 127 new cases to report in Auckland. Health staff are now supporting 3993 people to isolate at home.
There are 13 new cases in the region, with six in Te Kūiti, three in Huntly, two in Hamilton, one in Te Kauwhata, and one in Ōtorohanga. All are under investigation for links to previous cases.
Bay of Plenty
There are four new cases today in the Bay of Plenty. All four have been linked to previously confirmed cases. One is in Kawerau, one is in Tauranga and two are in Te Puke.
The person based in Kawerau is a close contact of a previously confirmed case, and has been in isolation for the past week.