There have been 144 new community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand today, with one further death also reported.

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In a statement, the Health Ministry said 82 people are in hospital, including nine in intensive care.

Today’s new cases included 127 in Auckland, two in Northland, nine in Waikato, four in the Bay of Plenty and the one in Hawke’s Bay reported earlier today which was picked up after a routine hospital swab.

Yesterday it was reported that there were 145 community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand and a further death of a person in their 80s.

Omicron advice

Last night Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that New Zealand will ban travel from nine southern African countries from 11.59pm tonight in an effort to curb the potential spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. From then only New Zealand citizens will be allowed to travel here and they will also be required to stay in managed isolation for a full 14 day period and undergo testing.

The Health Ministry said today that knowledge about this emerging variant “is in its infancy and we are closely watching and monitoring evidence and countries’ responses”.

It said there was no need to rush to get the booster.

“The science shows fully vaccinated people remain really well protected from infection, and from being seriously ill if they do get Covid-19. There is plenty of existing stock of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand now and on order for everyone who needs a booster shot over coming months.

“We will advise on any potential impacts for New Zealand, noting that we remain in a good position to minimise the impact of any new variants with isolation and routine testing of international arrivals.”

There were 20,873 vaccine doses given yesterday, including 6378 first doses and 14,495 second doses. The ministry said 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 85 percent are fully vaccinated.

It said it had now issued more than 2.26 million My Vaccine Passes.