New Zealand reports first Omicron BA.4 variant

Passengers and loved ones reunite at the arrivals hall on the first day of New Zealanders returning from Australia after the border reopened for travelers observing home self-isolation rules, at the Auckland international airport on Feb 28, 2022. (DAVID ROWLAND / AFP)

WELLINGTON / SEOUL ? KUALA LUMPUR  – New Zealand reported its first case of Omicron BA.4 variant at the border amid 12,699 community cases during the weekend, said the Ministry of Health on Sunday.

A person who has traveled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.4 variant of Omicron

A person who has traveled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.4 variant of Omicron. This is the first known detection of the variant in New Zealand, the ministry said in a statement .

Two other sub-variants of Omicron, the BA.2.12.1 and the BA 2.12.2, have also been detected in two returnees for the first time in New Zealand from travelers arriving in April, said the ministry.

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Meanwhile, the country reported the deaths of 13 people with COVID-19 amid the new community cases in the past two days.

In addition, there were 138 new cases of COVID-19 detected at the New Zealand border during the weekend, according to the ministry.

The country has reported 933,464 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

New Zealand is currently under the orange settings of the COVID-19 Protection Framework, where there is no limit for gatherings. 


Malaysia reported 2,107 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Saturday, bringing the national total to 4,448,004, according to the health ministry.

There are 16 new imported cases and 2,091 local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

A further five deaths have been reported, lifting the death toll to 35,547.

The ministry reported 6,890 new recoveries, taking the total number of cured and discharged to 4,366,951.

There are 45,506 active cases, 69 are being held in intensive care and 45 of those are in need of assisted breathing.

The country reported 35,318 vaccine doses administered on Saturday and 85 percent of the population have received at least one dose, 81.8 percent are fully vaccinated and 49.1 percent have received boosters. 

South Korea

South Korea reported 37,771 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Saturday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 17,275,649, the health authorities said on Sunday.

The daily caseload was down from 43,286 in the previous day and lower than 64,704 tallied a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The health authorities believed that the daily caseload has been on the decline following the Omicron variant-driven resurgence, which may have peaked in the middle of March.

Among the new cases, 30 were imported from overseas, lifting the total to 31,941.

The number of infected people who were in a serious condition stood at 493, up 3 from the previous day.

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A total of 81 more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 22,875. The total fatality rate was 0.13 percent.

The number of people who received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines was 44,548,135, or 86.8 percent of the total population, and the figure for those getting booster jabs was 33,125,137 people, or 64.5 percent of the population.