New Zealand

25 more deaths, 6862 community cases reported in NZ today

In its latest update, the Ministry said in a statement that 350 people with the virus were in hospital, including 10 in intensive care. This compared with 355 hospital cases and 12 in ICU yesterday.

One of the 25 new deaths reported today was a person aged in the 30s, with three people in their 40s. There were also four people in the 50s, two in their 60s, four in their 70s, six in their 80s and five aged over 90.

11 further deaths, new Omicron subvariant in community in NZ

It comes as another 11 people have died with Covid-19 and another 8150 new community cases have been detected.

The subvariant was detected in the Hawke's Bay from a test returned on 10 May.

"This Omicron subvariant is prevalent in the USA and has been detected at our border for many weeks - there have been 29 imported cases reported since April, so its movement into the community is not unexpected," the ministry said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tests positive for Covid-19

Her daughter Neve tested positive on Wednesday, she added in the post. Her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive on Sunday.

"Despite best efforts, unfortunately I've joined the rest of my family and tested positive for Covid-19," Ardern wrote on social media.

Ardern has been symptomatic since Friday night, according to a statement, and has "moderate" symptoms. She returned a weak positive Friday night and a clear positive this morning on a RAT test.

Ardern will be required to isolate until the morning of Saturday 21 May.

New Zealand border reopening fully from end of July

It comes with a range of other immigration announcements, including sector-specific agreements to support a shift away from low-skilled migrant labour, and a new 'Green list' of 85 hard-to-fill high-skill roles that provides a priority pathway to residency.

Visas for some 20,000 migrants already in the country are also being extended, and there will be new restrictions on students being able to work.

New Zealand surpasses 1 million Covid-19 cases since pandemic began

It comes as the ministry reports another 9173 new cases and 14 deaths today.

This time last year, the total of cases reported in New Zealand was 2288, the ministry said.

"New Zealanders' collective response to Covid-19 helped us to keep our case numbers low, especially in that first year when the virus was rampant internationally," it said.

In its latest update today, the ministry said 385 people were in hospital with the virus - compared with 368 people in its previous update yesterday. There were 13 people in ICU.

Seven deaths, 6636 new cases in New Zealand

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said 480 people were in hospital, including 12 in ICU.

Monday’s rolling seven day average of new Covid-19 cases is 7553. Last Monday it was 8355.

A second person who has travelled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.4 variant of Omicron.

Both identified cases were isolating at their homes, the ministry said.

BA.4 has also far been reported in southern Africa and Europe, and in New South Wales. The ministry said the arrival of the sub-variant in New Zealand was not unexpected.

New Zealand border reopens to international visitors tonight

On 19 March 2020 New Zealand snapped its border shut to anyone without citizenship or residency, before any Covid-19-related deaths were recorded.

It was the first time in our history such a move was made, with the ban also including those from the Pacific.

Today, the countdown is on to welcome back vaccinated visitors from visa waiver countries.

New Zealand's already reopened the border to vaccinated Australians and some international students.

Ardern defends Russian ambassador's presence in New Zealand

New Zealand has targeted sanctions against Russian oligarchs and their families, with 36 individuals added to the list overnight.

Ardern said reports of Ukraine civilians who had been killed, raped and severely wounded by Russian troops were "beyond reprehensible".

"Russia must answer to the world for what they've done. It goes without saying that these atrocities are against international law.

Auckland, rest of New Zealand warned Omicron cases could still rise

Health authorities said the outbreak had peaked in Auckland but was still growing nearly everywhere else.

Pinnacle Midlands Health Network has 85 practices across the middle of the North Island and medical director Jo Scott-Jones said some were seeing huge numbers of patients with the virus.

There were surges in Taranaki, Tairāwhiti, Lakes and Waikato DHB areas, he said.

"What we're seeing is being described as a Mexican wave, sort of travelling down the country," he said.

New Zealand’s Mt Ruapehu volcanic alert level raised after strong tremors

The volcanic alert level at Mt Ruapehu has been raised to two. It was previously at one.

In a statement, duty volcanologist Craig Miller said another heating phase had started at Mt Ruapehu and Crater Lake (Te Wai ā-moe), with the temperature now reaching 31C.

It was currently overflowing into Whangaehu river.

"Typically, over periods of months, Ruapehu's crater lake undergoes heating and cooling cycles. A new heating cycle has started and has been accompanied by strong levels of volcanic tremor (volcanic earthquakes)," he said.