WELLINGTON: New Zealand reported its first case of Omicron XE variant at the border, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Saturday. A person who has travelled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the XE variant of Omicron, said the ministry.
This is the first known detection of the Omicron XE variant in New Zealand, it said. According to the ministry, the person, who is currently isolating at home, arrived in New Zealand on April 19 and was tested on April 20. The whole-genome sequencing subsequently confirmed the XE variant.
"XE has been spreading overseas, and its arrival in New Zealand is not unexpected," said the ministry. Meanwhile, the country reported 19 deaths from Covid, with 7,930 community cases and 494 hospitalizations on Saturday.
In addition, 55 new cases of Covid were detected at the New Zealand border, said the ministry. New Zealand has reported 875,794 confirmed cases of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.
As the country is going through Anzac long weekend, the ministry has warned people to take health measures to protect themselves from the virus. "Firstly, be up to date with vaccinations. Secondly, wear a mask. And thirdly, stay home and avoid others if you're unwell," said the ministry.
New Zealand is currently under the orange settings of the Covid Protection Framework, where there is no limit for gatherings.