First case of Omicron XE variant confirmed in NZ

XE has been spreading overseas and its arrival in New Zealand is not unexpected. File photo.

A person who has travelled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the XE variant of Omicron. This is the first known detection of the variant in New Zealand.

The person arrived on April 19, was tested on April 20 and whole genome sequencing subsequently confirmed the XE variant, says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

“They are isolating at home.”

XE has been spreading overseas and its arrival in New Zealand is not unexpected. At this stage, the public health settings already in place to manage other Omicron variants are assessed to be appropriate for managing XE and no changes are required.

XE is a combination of BA.1 and BA.2 sub variants of Omicron. There is some early evidence that it may be slightly more transmissible than BA.2, which is more transmissible than BA.1.

There is no evidence to date that XE causes more severe disease than other Omicron lineages, noting that it takes weeks or months to identify the severity of each new variant.

The Ministry of Health are also reporting 7,930 new community cases of Covid-19, 494 hospitalisations and 19 deaths.

“Today we are sadly reporting the deaths of 19 people with Covid-19.

“The deaths being reported today include people who have died over the past 7 days. Delays to reporting can be associated with people dying with Covid-19, rather than from Covid-19, and Covid being discovered only after they have died. 

“These deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 665 and the 7-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13.

“Of the people whose deaths we are reporting today, one person was from Northland; six from the Auckland region; two from Waikato; one from Bay of Plenty; one from Whanganui; one from Taranaki; one from the Wellington region; one from Nelson-Marlborough; four from the Canterbury region and one from Southern.

“Two people were aged under 9; one person was in their 20s; four in their 60s; two in their 70s; five in their 80s and five people were over 90.

“Nine were male and ten were female.

“This is a very sad time for whanau and friends and our thoughts and condolences are with them.

“Out of respect we will be making no further comment.”

Today’s seven-day rolling average is 8,475, while the seven-day rolling average of cases as at last Saturday was 8,283.

There are 494 cases in hospital today with 37 in Northland; Waitemata: 75; Counties Manukau: 73; Auckland: 79; Waikato: 39; Bay of Plenty: 25; Lakes: 7; Tairāwhiti: 2, Hawke’s Bay: 10; Taranaki: 8; Whanganui: 3; MidCentral: 6; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 9; Capital and Coast: 15; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 60; South Canterbury: 5; West Coast: 2; Southern: 29

The average age of current hospitalisations is 59 and there are 15 cases in ICU or HDU.

The locations of new community cases are as follows (PCR & RAT): Northland (275), Auckland (2,037), Waikato (548), Bay of Plenty (300), Lakes (163), Hawke’s Bay (253), MidCentral (321), Whanganui (123), Taranaki (263), Tairāwhiti (73), Wairarapa (83), Capital and Coast (459), Hutt Valley (240), Nelson Marlborough (294), Canterbury (1,306), South Canterbury (164), Southern (929), West Coast (93), Unknown (6)

If you are going away this ANZAC weekend, you should have plans in place in the event you contract Covid-19 or are identified as a household contact of a case.

You would need to self-isolate and likely remain wherever you test positive or become a household contact, so there may be extra costs involved in paying for additional accommodation and changing your travel plans.

If you have used your own vehicle to travel, you can travel back to your home to isolate, taking public health measures to ensure you don’t infect anyone on your way home – such as maintaining physical distance and using self-service petrol stations

However, if you have used public transport or travelled between islands, you won’t be able to isolate at your home. So it is important you have a plan and the ability to isolate where you are holidaying, if you need to do so.

There are three actions everyone can do to help protect themselves and others this long weekend.

Firstly – be up to date with vaccinations, including a booster if you’ve not yet had one. If you are planning to be away, get boosted before you go.

Secondly – wear a mask. Masks are still required in many indoor settings. A good rule of thumb is to wear a mask in indoor public settings as we know that mask use halves the risk of spread of COVID-19. You must also wear a face mask on all flights and public transport, in taxi and ride-share services — unless you are exempt.

And thirdly – stay home and avoid others if you’re unwell, isolating or waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.

For guidance if you or someone you know tests positive or becomes a household contact, visit the Ministry of Health website.

For more information on mask use at Orange, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Vaccinations administered in New Zealand

    Vaccines administered to date: 4,026,380 first doses; 3,977,336 second doses; 31,716 third primary doses; 2,620,241 booster doses: 260,855 paediatric first doses and 109,037 paediatric second doses 

    Vaccines administered yesterday: 31 first doses; 101 second doses; 30 third primary doses; 1,657 booster doses; 97 paediatric first doses and 1,046 paediatric second doses.

People vaccinated

    All Ethnicities (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 4,056,177 first dose (96.4%); 4,006,520 second dose (95.2%), 2,616,837 boosted (71.1% of those eligible) 

    Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 520,900 first dose (91.2%); 503,875 second dose (88.2%), 233,401 boosted (55.1% of those eligible) 

    Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 281,787 first dose (98.3%); 276,859 second dose (96.6%), 139,038 boosted (57.2% of those eligible) 

    5 to 11-year-olds all ethnicities: 258,273 first dose (54.2%); 106,510 second dose (22.4%) 

    5 to 11-year-olds - Māori: 40,707 first dose (35.2%); 12,082 second dose (10.5%) 

    5 to 11-year-olds - Pacific Peoples: 23,413 first dose (47.4%); 5,889 second dose (11.9%) 

Note that the number for “People vaccinated” differs slightly from “Vaccines administered” as it includes those that have been vaccinated overseas.

Vaccination rates for all DHBs*  

    Northland DHB: first dose (90.1%); second dose (88%); boosted (67.9%) 

    Auckland DHB: first dose (99.2%); second dose (98.3%); boosted (72.9%) 

    Counties Manukau DHB: first dose (96.2%); second dose (95%); boosted (66%) 

    Waitemata DHB: first dose (96.5%); second dose (95.6%); boosted (70.8%) 

    Waikato DHB: first dose (95.1%); second dose (93.6%); boosted (66.7%) 

    Bay of Plenty DHB: first dose (95.1%); second dose (93.4%); boosted (66.2%) 

    Lakes DHB: first dose (93.2%); second dose (91.4%); boosted (66.6%) 

    MidCentral DHB: first dose (96.4%); second dose (95.2%); boosted (72.3%) 

    Tairāwhiti DHB: first dose (93.2%); second dose (91%); boosted (66%) 

    Whanganui DHB: first dose (91.9%); second dose (90.4%); boosted (71.6%) 

    Hawke’s Bay DHB: first dose (97.2%); second dose (95.6%); boosted (70%) 

    Taranaki DHB: first dose (94.6%); second dose (93.3%); boosted (68.3%) 

    Wairarapa DHB: first dose (96.5%); second dose (95%); boosted (73.1%) 

    Capital & Coast DHB: first dose (98.5%); second dose (97.8%); boosted (79.5%) 

    Hutt Valley DHB: first dose (96.6%); second dose (95.7%); boosted (75.1%) 

    Nelson Marlborough DHB: first dose (96.4%); second dose (95.2%); boosted (73.6%) 

    West Coast DHB: first dose (92.7%); second dose (91.3%); boosted (71.9%) 

    Canterbury DHB: first dose (99.7%); second dose (98.8%); boosted (74.6%) 

    South Canterbury DHB: first dose (94.8%); second dose (93.8%); boosted (74.7%) 

    Southern DHB: first dose (98.5%); second dose (97.4%); boosted (73.3%).

*Partially and second doses percentages are for those 12+. Boosted percentages are for 18+ who have become eligible 3 months after having their second dose or 16 and 17 year olds who have become eligible 6 months after having their second dose.

Percentages are based on 2020 HSU data - a health-specific population denominator. As the population continues to change over time, coverage rates can exceed 100%.

Hospitalisations

    Cases in hospital: total number 494: Northland: 37; Waitemata: 75; Counties Manukau: 73; Auckland: 79; Waikato: 39; Bay of Plenty: 25; Lakes: 7; Tairāwhiti: 2, Hawke’s Bay: 10; Taranaki: 8; Whanganui: 3; MidCentral: 6; Wairarapa: 1; Hutt Valley: 9; Capital and Coast: 15; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 60; South Canterbury: 5; West Coast: 2; Southern: 29

    Average age of current hospitalisations: 59

    Cases in ICU or HDU: 15

    Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region only, excluding Emergency Departments): Unvaccinated or not eligible (49 cases / 19%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (6 cases / 2%); double vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (72 cases / 28%); Received booster at least 7 days before being reported as a case (119 cases / 47%); unknown (9 cases / 4%).

Cases

    Seven day rolling average of community cases: 8,475

    Seven day rolling average (as at Friday last week): 8,283

    Number of new community cases: 7,930

    Number of new community cases (PCR): 256

    Number of new community cases (RAT): 7,674

    Location of new community cases (PCR & RAT): Northland (275), Auckland (2,037), Waikato (548), Bay of Plenty (300), Lakes (163), Hawke’s Bay (253), MidCentral (321), Whanganui (123), Taranaki (263), Tairāwhiti (73), Wairarapa (83), Capital and Coast (459), Hutt Valley (240), Nelson Marlborough (294), Canterbury (1,306), South Canterbury (164), Southern (929), West Coast (93), Unknown (6)

    Number of new cases identified at the border: 55

    Number of active community cases (total): 59,300 (cases identified in the past 7 days and not yet classified as recovered)

    Confirmed cases (total): 875,794

Please note, the Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO.

Tests

    Number of PCR tests total (last 24 hours): 2,641

    Number of Rapid Antigen Tests reported total (last 24 hours): 17,855

    PCR tests rolling average (last 7 days): 2,045

    Number of Rapid Antigen Tests dispatched (last 7 days as of 22 April 2022): 629,000.  (Please note that this number is not updated over the weekend and reflects the number of tests as of Friday).




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