'We are all good': Motueka family at centre of Omicron outbreak

A Motueka family isolating at a motel with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 say they are doing "all good", as New Zealand scrambles to deal with the outbreak.

From Sunday night, the country moved into the red traffic light setting in response to nine Covid cases in Motueka being confirmed as Omicron after visiting Auckland.

The connection between the nine Nelson cases and the border is not yet known - leading health officials to believe the highly-transmissible variant was circulating in Auckland and potentially in the Nelson region.

The Motueka cases attended a wedding in Auckland on the weekend of January 15, along with a funeral, Rainbow's End amusement park, and the Sky Tower in the following days - events which had well over 100 people in attendance.

Now, the family has gone into quarantine and is being supported by the Ministry of Health.

A family member spoken to by the Herald said they are doing well.

"We are all good," he said.

He confirmed they are isolating together at a motel and referred further queries to the ministry.

A Motueka local who knows the family told the Herald their symptoms appear mild.

The family has links to New Zealand's Sikh community, which has reached out to offer them support, said Daljit Singh of the Takanini Gurdwara.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield had thanked the family for getting tested, and said all eligible members of the household were vaccinated.

At least one person who attended the family wedding had visited Tarka Indian Eatery in Mission Bay, a new location of interest published yesterday.

Eatery owner Harsimran Singh said the Omicron exposure was from a private gathering of 15 to 20 people at the restaurant on January 14 from 4 to 5pm.

The host of the gathering was to go on to attend the wedding the following day.

No other diners were present because the restaurant had only opened to the public at 5pm, Harsimran told the Herald.

He wasn't there at the time, but the three staff members who were on have returned negative tests so far and are isolating while they wait for word from the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, a central Auckland hotel, a restaurant in Papatoetoe and a community hall in Pukekohe are the latest locations linked to the Omicron outbreak.

Both were identified as locations of interest by the Ministry of Health last night.

Anyone who visited the Shivani Restaurant Papatoetoe from 12-1pm on Sunday January 16 is being asked to isolate, get tested immediately and again on day 5 of their potential exposure. The same health advice is being given to those who attended a private event at Pukekohe Indian Hall on Sunday January 15 from 6.45pm to 10.45pm.

Anyone who was at Auckland's Rose Park Hotel, Parnell, on Gladstone Rd from midnight Friday, January 14 to 12.30pm Saturday, January 15 is also being asked to isolate, test immediately and again on day 5.

Rainbow's End, Auckland Airport's domestic terminal and a rest home in Flat Bush are also on a growing list of locations of interest, including sites in the Nelson region.

A fully vaccinated staffer at the Summerset by the Park retirement village, associated with the Motueka cases, had tested positive - closing the facility to visitors and prompting widespread testing.

It followed news of an Air New Zealand staffer who caught the virus after travelling on one of several flights taken by the Motueka cases.

It was initially thought the group caught Covid from the air crew member, however it is now believed the air crew member caught it from the group.

The Motueka flights are:

• Flight NZ 5083 from Auckland to Nelson at 5.20pm on January 16.

• Flight NZ 5080 from Nelson to Auckland at 4pm on January 19.

• Flight NZ 5077 from Auckland to Nelson at 2pm on January 19.

The Countdown supermarket in Motueka is also among the new locations of interest list released by the Ministry of Health today.

Anyone who visited the High St store last Tuesday between 7 pm and 8pm should self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days after being exposed.

The Ministry of Health said Greenwood Health Motueka is linked to a "suspected Omicron case" at this stage.

Other locations of interest already include Repco Motueka and the town's New World.

Tasman mayor Tim King said they were pretty well prepared and people knew Omicron was likely to enter the community.

"I'm confident the planning is in place and that's to be continued to be worked on over the next week or 10 days as we see how this develops."

 

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