Kia ora tātou,

Ngā mihi o te tau hou pākeha.

  • Reported cases of COVID-19 in Te Taitokerau peaked before Christmas, but numbers are continuing to fluctuate – with a 7-day rolling average of 112 cases/day in mid-January. Nationally cases are also declining.
  • Re-infections (people having a second or third COVID illness) now account for nearly one third of cases reported in Te Taitokerau, and 40% nationally.
  • Māori remain over-represented in reported cases and hospital admissions compared with non-Māori in Te Taitokerau, which given vaccination coverage inequities is unsurprising. Vaccination rates for the second vaccine dose and boosters remain significantly lower for Māori than non-Māori (78% cf 87% NM coverage (an 11% gap) for second dose, and 56% cf 75% for boosters (19% lower than NM)
  • Hospitalisations have increased in the last month, partly driven by outbreaks within Whangarei hospital
  • Variant BA 2.75 remains dominant across the country but with BQ 1.1 and XBC increasing; the new variant XXB 1.5 (dubbed ‘Kraken’, which may be more infectious) was identified in whole genome sequencing earlier this month in New Zealand.

Key messages:

  • Covid is still around…we can expect to see new variants in 2023, and continued additional stress on the health system
  • Getting boosted, and wearing a mask in crowded places such as public transport will reduce your risk of infection and protect you from severe illness
  • Protect your vulnerable whanau members by staying home if you are ill, and testing before you get together!
  • FREE Rapid tests are still available from Te Whatu Ora and Māori health provider testing and collection sites: see How to get a COVID-19 test in New Zealand | Unite against COVID-19 ( for ordering online and collection sites.

Ngā mihi,

Dr Clair Mills

Pou Hauora – Public health medicine specialist

Te Kahu o Taonui