Queenstown locations linked to suspected Omicron cases

The Hotel St Moritz Queenstown. Photo: Cass Marrett
The Hotel St Moritz Queenstown. Photo: Cass Marrett
Two locations of interest in Queenstown have been linked to suspected Omicron cases.

The locations are Queenstown Airport on Saturday (January 22) from 2.15pm-3pm.

The second is the Hotel St Moritz, also on Saturday Jan 22, from 12am (midnight)-12pm.

People who were at either place during the affected times are told to self-monitor for Covid symptoms for 10 days after being exposed and if symptoms start to show, get tested and stay home until a negative test result returns.

Hotel St Moritz Queenstown general manager Jo Finnigan said the Covid-positive guest was considered infectious only on the last day of their stay, on Saturday (Jan 22), from 12am to noon.

‘‘Very fortunately, this guest did nothing on the 22nd but walk down the corridor, catch the elevator and check out," Ms Finnigan said.

‘‘Our best understanding of their movements was that it was about a 15-minute window.’’

Those at the hotel at the time had been deemed casual contacts.

‘‘The advice is that we monitor our symptoms and that we get tested if we have any symptoms.

‘‘We are a fully-vaccinated Fort Knox here, and therefore we’re all mask wearing, and of course we have very strict cleaning and sanitation protocols.

Although the potential exposure was brief, ‘‘we’re all very conscious of how this might play out, so it’s a good reminder’’.

The woman had to change her travel plans to Queenstown due to this week's Alert Level 4 lockdown....
Queenstown Airport (bottom) is a location of interest. Photo: ODT files

In response to being announced as a location of interest Queenstown Airport gave the following statement:

"Our understanding is the passenger was departing Queenstown. MoH has advised that anyone who was at the airport between 2.15pm – 3pm on Saturday 22 January is considered a casual contact and should self-monitor for symptoms.

"Since the emergence of Covid-19 we have been following stringent health and safety protocols including increased cleaning of high-touch and high-traffic areas, mask wearing, scanning in and regular RAT surveillance testing of staff. Queenstown Airport also has a vaccination policy in place.

"Given the likelihood that Covid-19 will be in the community at some point we are well prepared and this is a good reminder to make sure everyone follows MoH guidelines including mask wearing, scanning in to the terminal as well as all businesses inside terminal, and if you aren’t feeling well please stay at home."

Get a test 'really quickly': Mayor


Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Mayor Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult says he is "not surprised" new locations of interest have been announced in Queenstown.

Mr Boult said he was aware of some concern circulating that Omicron was in the district, but said there was nothing new to report since the locations of interest were announced.

"I've been telling people do not take any notice of rumour, wait until you hear it officially."

He said the case was a visitor from Auckland. 

"Sooner or later we are going to have folk here who end up in our community with Omicron," Mr Boult said.

"At this stage the DHB advise me they are only places of interest and clearly they're watching."

He said that he was aware testing numbers in the resort were "reasonably low" and encouraged anyone who was near those places of interest and had "any signs of any illness at all" to get a test "really quickly" and self-isolate.

"The way to get this thing under control is to ensure that you have those tests really quickly."

He said he had been told by Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming that he would be contacted as soon as there was a community case in Queenstown to report.

In the meantime Mr Boult urged people to practice good hygiene, wear a good mask "some of the cloth masks aren't particularly effective" and use the Covid tracer app "constantly".

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack said the new locations in Queenstown highlighted the need for Southerners to remain vigilant.

"Follow the public health guidance. When out of your house wear a mask, scan the QR codes, practice good hand hygiene, and practise social distancing.

"If you were at any of the locations of interest at the date and time listed, and you are symptomatic please get tested and remain at home until you receive a negative test result."

To arrange a test, please call your GP or the WellSouth Call Centre on 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719).

The SDHB yesterday encouraged all eligible people to get their boosters now.

Dr Jack said it took about two weeks for the body to build protection against Covid-19 after the vaccination.

About 65% of eligible people in the district had received their booster shot, she said.

Twenty-three new community cases of Covid-19 were reported by the Ministry of Health yesterday, with 56 Omicron cases in the community now, 21 up from Tuesday.

Shortly after Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall unveiled the Government’s three-phase public health response spread of Omicron, laboratory technicians, on whose shoulders the burden of increased Covid testing will fall, remained unconvinced.

New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Science president Terry Taylor, of Dunedin, said he was more worried than ever testing labs would be overrun.

Dr Verrall said the plan’s three phases would adapt.

Phase one was similar to now with contact tracing, isolation and requests everyone who was symptomatic be tested.



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