The Anzac weekend news that another member of the Omicron virus family had arrived in New Zealand suggests the Covid-19 cloud will hang around here for months yet.
XE, a hybrid of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2, has been found in several countries since January, and BA.2 has become the dominant form of Covid since then.
The new hybrid is essentially part of a continuing, general Omicron problem that has been very slow to improve here. Even without any setbacks, the outbreak is taking its time to move on.
The Ministry of Health said the person with XE arrived on April 19 and is isolating at home. It says the current health settings can manage XE.
On Saturday, the confirmed new daily Covid cases were stubbornly high at 7930 and 19 more deaths brought the overall total to 665. The seven-day rolling case average was 8475, compared to 8283 a week earlier.
New Zealand is moving closer to a million cases for the pandemic with 875,794 confirmed up to Saturday.
Although New Zealand's cumulative total of deaths with or by Covid is still small compared with Northern Hemisphere countries, Omicron has been highly transmissible here, as it has been elsewhere.
In the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that 71 per cent of people in England have now been infected with the virus. Before the Omicron wave the level was much lower: about 30 per cent of people had been infected by October 2021.
However, in a brighter outlook, infections are currently continuing to decrease in Britain as they are in major North American and European countries, according to OurWorldInData tracking of seven-day rolling averages per million people.
And in New Zealand there's enough vaccine-induced protection in the community for many people to feel they can get on with life a bit more easily now than before. Good quality masks are a useful daily tool to help people against Omicron.
Yet long-Covid remains a potential trap for those who get infected, not enough people have had a booster shot, and only 22 per cent of children aged 5-11 have had both shots so far.
Vaccinations have hit a brick wall with only 1722 in total recorded on Saturday. Antiviral drugs will likely have a growing role going forward.
The World Health Organisation, in the less restricted pandemic environment now, is pushing for wide distribution of the oral antiviral Paxlovid treatment to aid mild and moderate Covid patients at most risk of hospitalisation.
It has been approved in New Zealand with 60,000 courses under strict criteria available this year.
XE has been added to New Zealand's virus stew and is highly infectious but its main impact is to demonstrate that other potentially more deadly variants or subvariants could easily arrive here. University of Auckland computational biologist Dr David Welch has said it appears the XE subtype would not be able to outcompete BA.2.
University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said that with the subvariants, waning immunity and requirements being eased, a second wave may be underway here.
"This isn't Delta, it's Omicron and you need three doses of the vaccine to give you protection. And there's still 900,000 or more New Zealanders who haven't had the booster, which is really quite shocking."
Vaccines, masks, and good air ventilation remain important, whatever subvariant surfaces.