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New Zealand prepares for Omicron subvariants

WELLINGTON (XINHUA) – New Zealand medical experts enhanced COVID-19 surveillance at international borders as it prepares for further waves of Omicron subvariants prevalent around the world.

“New Zealand has been experiencing exactly the same thing with additional subvariants being detected over the recent weeks,” the Ministry of Health’s chief science advisor Ian Town told a press conference yesterday.

“There is a small chance that in the future a more aggressive variant may be found in New Zealand but in general we will see that emergence overseas and that’s where our international surveillance plays an important part,” Town said.

“COVID is not going away. It is a continual challenge for us as it is in many other countries,” he said.

The Health Ministry’s chief testing advisor Kirsten Beynon said the government’s surveillance measures included surveying wastewaters, hospital patients and travellers entering New Zealand.

New Zealand recorded 7,050 new community cases of COVID-19 and 24 more deaths from the pandemic, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

Among the new community infections, 1,962 were reported in the largest city Auckland, the ministry said.

In addition, 70 new cases of COVID-19 were detected at the New Zealand border.

Currently, 361 COVID-19 patients are being treated in New Zealand hospitals, including 14 in intensive care units or high dependency units.

People walk in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. PHOTO: XINHUA