NZ has outbreaks of new Omicron sub-variant - Bloomfield

Source: 1News

New Zealand now has outbreaks of both the new Omicron sub-variant BA.2 as well as the original variant BA.1, according to Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

BA.1 is the variant of Omicron first detected in New Zealand, while BA.2 is a sub variant.

The Ministry of Health last Thursday January 27 confirmed that the new sub-variant had been found in a "small number" of New Zealand border workers and their close contacts.

Bloomfield on Wednesday afternoon confirmed there were now “different little” community outbreaks of both in the country.

Though there were now outbreaks of both, the Director-General of Health said the “largest” was BA.1, the original Omicron.

“We’ve got both in New Zealand, we had detected both at the border," Bloomfield said.

New version of Omicron found in NZ border workers and close contacts

“And a report I’ve just seen today from the ESR suggests we have different little outbreaks in the country, but the one that is the largest which is the one based around the wedding in Auckland which were the initial cases we found is BA.1 variant, not BA.2."

Some international scientists are concerned the sub-variant could be more contagious than the original BA.1 version.

However, Bloomfield said emerging data, particularly from Denmark, showed there is nothing to suggest that public health efforts like testing, isolating and contact tracing would be any different for the new sub variant.

“And likewise there’s nothing to suggest that the vaccine won’t be as effective against both sub-types of the variant.”

Last week University of Otago biochemistry Professor Kurt Krause told 1News it appears the new sub-variant is "no more deadly and no more prone to cause hospitalisations".

"This is probably going to be the norm for us, there's probably going to be new variants that continue to every so often get introduced."

There were 142 new Covid-19 community cases confirmed in New Zealand on Wednesday.