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New Zealand reports first case of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in community

New Zealand reports first case of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in community

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New Zealand reported its first case of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in a community case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, without a clear link to the border.

The case was found in Hawke's Bay from a test result returned on May 10, said the Ministry of Health. This Omicron subvariant is prevalent in the United States and has been detected at the border for many weeks -- there have been 29 imported cases of its kind reported since April, so its movement into the community is not unexpected, said a ministry statement.

Emerging data suggests BA.2.12.1 is marginally more transmissible than the subvariants currently circulating in New Zealand. The genomic surveillance (genomes and wastewater) remains in place to study any new variants and track their spread, it said.

Previously, New Zealand also detected the Omicron BA.4 and/or BA.5 subvariants in the community. New Zealand recorded 8,150 new community cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Wednesday.

Among the new community infections, 2,617 were reported in the largest city Auckland, the ministry said. In addition, 78 new cases of COVID-19 were detected at the New Zealand border. Currently, 368 COVID-19 patients are being treated in New Zealand hospitals, including 11 in intensive care units or high dependency units. New Zealand has reported 1,117,307 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the country.