Sunday May 1

New Zealand has detected its first case of the Omicron BA.4 variant. This is a border case and involves a person who travelled from South Africa to New Zealand on April 22.

The person returned a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) the day after their arrival and a positive PCR test on April 24. 

The Ministry of Health says whole genome sequencing was undertaken as part of border surveillance and sequencing confirmed the case was the BA.4 variant. 

The person has been isolating at home, and has followed all testing and reporting requirements. 

This variant has been reported in South Africa and Europe, and a case was reported in Australia a few days ago. 

"The arrival of this sub-variant in New Zealand is not unexpected," the ministry says. 

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

"The BA.4 variant is one of the different Omicron sub-variants being monitored by the World Health Organisation."

The ministry says there is no evidence to date that this variant is more transmissible or causes more severe disease than other Omicron variants. 

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

Two other sub-variants of Omicron – the BA.2.12.1 and the BA 2.12.2 – have also been detected in two returnees for the first time. They arrived to New Zealand on April 11 and 15.

Neither sub-variant is currently regarded as being of concern, the ministry says.

Community cases

Today, there are 5,656 community cases. 

Of these cases, 139 are in Northland, 1,676 are in Auckland, 341 in Waikato, 175 in Bay of Plenty, 116 in the Lakes district, 149 in Hawke's Bay, 202 in MidCentral, 64 in Whanganui, 149 in Taranaki, 99 in Tairāwhiti, 58 in Wairarapa, 360 in Capital and Coast, 152 in Hutt Valley, 222 in Nelson Marlborough, 931 in Canterbury, 118 in South Canterbury, 625 in the Southern district, 74 in the West Coast and 6 in unknown locations.

The total number of active cases is 51,891.

The Ministry of Health defines active cases as those identified in the last seven days and not yet classified as recovered.

The total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began is 933,464.

Hospitalisations and Covid-19 related deaths

Six people with Covid-19 have died over the previous three days, bringing the publicly reported total to date to 750.

The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 11.

Of the people whose deaths are being reported today, one person was from Northland, one from Taranaki, two were from Waikato and two from Canterbury.

Three were in their 70s and three were in their 80s.

Four were women and two were men.

There are 466 people in hospital, with 16 of those people in intensive care or high dependency units.

The average age of people currently in hospital is 60. 


The number of PCR tests administered in the last 24 hours is 2,523 and the number of RATs that have been reported is 10,430.

If you take a RAT you must report the result, positive or negative. This can be done online through My Covid Record, or by calling 0800 222 478 between 8am and 8pm. 


96.4 percent of New Zealand's eligible population have had the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and 95.2 percent have had a second dose.

Top image: Person picking up their luggage. (File photo) Photo: iStock

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