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Hawke’s Bay has recorded the first case of an Omicron COVID-19 sub-variant in the country.

The BA.2.12.1 case reported yesterday is the first community case in New Zealand, with health officials saying the case does not have a clear link to the border.

Meanwhile there was another COVID related death in the region yesterday, along with 217 new cases.

In Central Hawke’s Bay, 13 new cases were reported, with the district sitting at 138 active cases.

There was also a death yesterday in the MidCentral region, taking the total number of deaths from COVID to 41.

Tararua District currently has 135 active cases.

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Tararua District Council has further eased water restrictions right across the district.

Dannevirke, Norsewood and Pahiatua moved to alternate day restrictions from last night, while all restrictions were removed for those connected to the Woodville supply.

A Council spokesperson asked that all users of town water supplies “use water smartly, reducing pressure on systems”.

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With the apple picking season now over, the group representing growers across the country predicts they will lose $105 million in export earnings this year.

New Zealand Apples and Pears said in January 23.2 million cartons of apples and pears were forecast, however that was now been adjusted to 20.3 million.

Getting enough labour to pick fruit has been the biggest challenge since the outbreak of COVID, along with adverse weather events.

Hawke’s Bay is the country’s biggest apple region.

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With colder nights upon us, free electric blanket testing is being offered to CHB residents.

The testing will be done at the Waipukurau Fire Station tomorrow between 9am-3pm.

Blankets can be dropped in during this time for a free check, otherwise can be dropped off today at the Waipawa Library or Te Huinga Wai in Waipukurau to be sent for safety testing tomorrow.