New Zealand

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.

New Zealand claim to world's largest potato is actually a tuber

Guinness World Records have told Colin and Donna Craig-Brown that what they believed to be a potato is in fact a gourd tuber.

Guinness wrote to the pair to confirm scientific testing found their find was not a potato.

The discovery of the tuber happened last year when Mr Craig-Brown hit it with a hoe while gardening on their small farm near Hamilton.

He said it looks and tasted like a potato while admitting he did not know what gourd tuber tasted like.

"What can you say?" Mr Craig-Brown told the Associated Press.

Video gaming leading to problem gambling for Pasifika

The New Zealand research has been carried out by three organisations - Pasifika Youth Online Gaming and Gambling Research, Mapu Maia Pasifika Service and Moana Research.

They have found children across New Zealand as young as five are showing symptoms of 'gaming harm'.

Lead researcher Dr Seini Taufa said the research is the first of its kind and 75 young people were interviewed.

Taufa said more investment is required to support efforts to overcome problem gambling.

Two more deaths, 15,540 new cases and 952 in hospital

Two Covid-related deaths have also been reported and there are 952 people in hospital, including 19 in intensive care.

The average age of people in hospital is currently 58.

Of the two Covid-related deaths, one was in Waikato and one was in Canterbury. Both people were women aged over 70.

The total number of publicly reported Covid-19 related deaths to date is now 115, the ministry said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the whānau and friends of all those who have died."

18,833 new community cases, 597 people in hospital, five deaths

The ministry has reported 18,833 new community cases of Covid-19 today, with 597 people in hospitals, including 10 people who need intensive care.

It said 9789 cases reported today were in Auckland, which recorded more than 13,000 cases yesterday, with health authorities in New Zealand's largest city hoping the Omicron wave had peaked.

New Zealand reports 23,183 new community cases, 503 in hospital

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said a new death of a New Zealander with Covid-19 haas been recorded with a person passing away in a Bay of Plenty rest home. The person died of an unrelated medical condition while receiving palliative care and had tested positive for the coronavirus.

There are 146,527 known active community cases in New Zealand.