COVID-19: New Zealand may be nearing next Omicron wave - Siouxsie Wiles

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says with the new Omicron subvariants now in New Zealand, the question is when the next wave of COVID-19 cases will hit.

There were 4402 new community cases of COVID-19 reported today, with 354 people in hospital with the coronavirus.

As winter illnesses strike, hospitals could be put under further pressure from the subvariants of Omicron that are responsible for rising cases overseas.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said Omicron BA2.2, BA.4, and BA.5 have made their way to New Zealand.

"We know that the variants that are starting to cause increasing cases overseas are now here in New Zealand and so the question is at what point are we going to see the large surge in cases."

It was not yet known how much protection those who had already been infected had against these variants, she said.

Another COVID-19 wave, combined with influenza with other respiratory illnesses, would make for a difficult winter for the health sector, Dr Wiles said.

The number of publicly reported deaths of people with COVID-19 in New Zealand is now 1320, according to the Ministry of Health.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said the possibility of developing Long COVID and the number of people dying from the virus meant the disease was still best avoided if possible.