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COVID 19 -new variants such as Delta

New variants of COVID-19 have emerged in several places around the world. One of these new variants, the Delta variant, is now the main variant everywhere, including in Aotearoa New Zealand.

On this page, you can find the following information:

  • Is it normal for viruses to change?

  • What does the Delta variant mean for New Zealanders?

  • Does the COVID-19 vaccine work on the COVID-19 Delta variant?

Is it normal for viruses to change?

It is normal for viruses to constantly change. This is known as mutation. These changes create new strains or variants of viruses.

Many variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been found around the world during this pandemic and have spread to other countries. They are now named using the Greek alphabet according to the order in which they have been identified. Current known variants are Alpha (identified in the UK), Beta (identified in South Africa), Gamma (identified in Brazil) and Delta (identified in India).

The Delta variant is the most transmissible variant, meaning it spreads from one person to another much more easily.

What does the Delta variant mean for New Zealanders?

The Delta variant has a number of differences compared to earlier versions of the virus. These differences mean that the Delta variant is a greater threat to the health of people who contract the infection. It is also a greater challenge to contain the spread of the virus in an outbreak.

  • Delta can cause people to develop more serious COVID-19 illness than other variants of the virus.

  • People with a Delta infection are at higher risk of needing to be in hospital.

  • The chance of infecting others, such as people within your household or other contacts, is very high because Delta is so transmissible.

  • It is estimated that on average, one person infected with Delta may infect 5 or 6 other people. This is how Delta outbreaks have grown so rapidly overseas and in Aotearoa

New Zealand.

  • People with Delta infections seem to carry much more virus (have a higher viral load) and for a longer period of time than those infected with the original virus or other variants.

  • The time from exposure to the virus until first symptoms is shorter for the Delta variant.

  • Some people may have no symptoms (asymptomatic) when infectious.

This means it is so important to stamp out any community outbreaks as quickly as possible and to ensure very high rates of vaccination. It is also even more important that everyone follows the government's advice on what to do to stop the spread.

What to do to stop the spread of the Delta variant

Physical distancing of 2m where possible.

  • Wear a face covering or mask on public transport and indoors in busy places such as supermarkets.

  • Keep indoor rooms well ventilated (eg, by opening windows and doors) where possible.

  • Stay home if you're sick. If you show any symptoms, phone your GP or Healthline (0800 358 5453) and get a COVID-19 test.

  • Use the NZ COVID Tracer app and turn on Bluetooth on your phone.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

  • Clean surfaces regularly.

To read more about the Delta variant and other COVID topics, visit Health Navigator NZ.

(Source: Content used with permission and adapted from Health Navigator NZ)

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