There are 9629 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today - up by more than 3000 from yesterday.
The regions with the most new cases in the past 24 hours are Canterbury, with 1549 cases, and Waitematā, with 1266.
Auckland recorded 924 cases, Capital and Coast had 827, Southern 809 and Counties Manukau 731 new infections.
The worst affected region remains Auckland, with 15,983 people infected with Covid.
The Ministry of Health today also reported a further 24 Covid-related deaths. Of the 24 deaths, three people were in their 40s, five were in their seventies, seven were in their 80s, and nine were aged over 90.
There are 493 people in hospital with the virus, including 11 in intensive care.
And the Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 has been detected in New Zealand for the first time.
The ministry says at this stage, there is no evidence BA.2.75 requires a shift in the public health settings already in place to manage other Omicron variants.
On Friday afternoon, analysis of whole genome sequencing confirmed two cases in New Zealand with BA.2.75. Before testing positive for Covid-19, both cases had recently travelled from India.
BA.2.75 is a recently identified second generation subvariant of BA.2, the dominant variant circulating in New Zealand at this stage. BA.2.75 has only been recently identified as distinct from BA.2, and evidence on its transmissibility, immune evasiveness and severity is still preliminary and emerging.
"We do know BA.2.75 has some characteristics that looks like they may enhance its ability to evade immunity, similar to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, and there is some early evidence overseas that it may be slightly more transmissible that BA.2. There is no current evidence that it leads to more severe disease, although assessing the evidence is at a very early stage," the ministry said.
BA.2.75 is causing global concern because the Omicron sub variant is believed to have certain mutations that enables it to dodge antibodies - giving it the ability to infect people who have had Covid before, as well as those who are vaccinated.
There are 493 people in hospital with Covid, 11 of which are in ICU. This is how cases are spread in hospitals around New Zealand: Northland: 8; Waitematā: 101; Counties Manukau: 34; Auckland: 53; Waikato: 53; Bay of Plenty: 29; Lakes: 9; Hawke's Bay: 16; MidCentral: 14; Whanganui: 7; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 2; Wairarapa: 7; Capital and Coast: 37; Hutt Valley: 6; Nelson Marlborough: 10; Canterbury: 59; South Canterbury: 7; West Coast: 1; Southern: 28.
The seven-day rolling average for hospitalisations is 436. This time last week it was 338.
There are now 50,698 active cases in New Zealand.
The news comes as one Auckland school says it is going back to online learning this week due to Covid-19.
A note on the Carmel College website says it's made the call to revert to online learning from today to Friday as it's no longer able to staff classes.
Meanwhile, the ministry yesterday said there had been an increase of Covid-positive Waitematā inpatients - including an outbreak at a community site.
There was also evidence of visitors to North Shore Hospital passing Covid on to patients.
"The public is reminded to stay away from hospital if unwell and to respect hospital rules if they do visit, wear an approved mask at all times, practice good hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette as well as maintain physical distancing of at least one metre."
There were 6498 community cases announced yesterday.
Earlier today, the Hauora Tairāwhiti health provider, which includes Gisborne, warned infections were again on the rise, with between 38 and 88 cases over the past week.
"There are now 394 active cases, which is double what we had two weeks ago," the former district health board posted on Facebook.
Experts are now warning New Zealand is facing a second wave of coronavirus infections as cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5 spread around the country.