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Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Today’s case numbers as health officials detail measures used for monitoring new variants

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The Ministry of Health’s chief science adviser will today will provide detail on the surveillance measures used for monitoring new variants of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Dr Ian Town will talk to media at 1.30pm and will be joined by the ministry’s chief testing adviser, Kirsten Beynon, and the ministry’s lead science adviser, Dr Fiona Callaghan.

Before this, the ministry will release today’s case numbers at 1pm.

Monday’s case numbers were included in yesterday’s update after the public holiday.

There were 10,191 cases to report over the two days and a further 14 covid-related deaths.

There were 371 people in hospital with the virus, including nine people in intensive care.

Last Friday, the ministry reported four cases of BA.5 and one case of BA.4 – the first time each of the Omicron subvariants have been detected in the community without a clear link to the border.

There have since been no further reports of more of these variants in the community.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said the new variants were likely to lead to a second Omicron wave.

Baker said the variants were more infectious and had caused new waves overseas.

Multiple cases of the BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariant have also been detected in the community.

Meanwhile, as Covid and winter illnesses hit, an Auckland primary school has reverted back to mask wearing.

This week, Grey Lynn Primary School asked all students in Year 4 and up to wear masks indoors, and are encouraging younger students to mask up also.

A newsletter from the board of trustees said five staff had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past fortnight, and many students were also isolating.

Auckland continues to dominate New Zealand’s Covid cases, with 2997 cases reported in the city over the past two days of the total 10,191 across New Zealand.

That’s contributed to high rates of illness among teachers, with many high schools moving back to rostered learning because there aren’t enough staff to supervise classes.

Grey Lynn’s board chairman Stewart Reynolds told the Herald the decision was about Covid and increasing rates of other winter illnesses.

“It’s all about keeping the school open as long as possible, keeping the children learning, seeing them happy. Because they love being back.”

Today, Health Minister Andrew Little announced that the Government is introducing a bill to amend legislation so hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people can access a second Covid-19 booster.

Late last month, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced plans to roll out a second booster dose to people who were at high risk of getting very sick from Covid-19 but signalled that legislative changes were needed.

Little said the bill would go to the Health select committee and be reported back on June 20, and would be considered by the House again that week.

The booster was voluntary and the amendment would allow all vaccinators to administer the dose without a prescription.

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