Relief for resort; council closes offices

Queenstown was able to breathe a small sigh of relief yesterday after no further locations of interest were notified in connection with a suspected case of Omicron in the town.

Hotel St Moritz and Queenstown Airport remain the only places of concern, and the flight the visitor departed on last Saturday afternoon is yet to be declared as a location of interest.

However, as a reminder that the South is not immune from the looming threat of Covid-19, Environment Southland closed all its offices yesterday after it was discovered a contact of a Covid-positive case had met staff members in the past two days.

Chief executive Rob Phillips said Environment Southland was not a location of interest and staff had not been asked to self-isolate at this stage.

“We now have systems well embedded that allow our staff to set up and work from home very quickly so our services can continue.

“We really appreciate that the visitor to our office has been very open with us about their contact and this has allowed us to take precautionary measures.”

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Susan Jack said seven people were now in self-isolation in Otago and Southland, down from 15 earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the SDHB confirmed an announcement earlier this week that masks would now be mandatory for hospital staff, patients and visitors aged over 8, and emphasised that they had to be surgical masks.

“Medical masks are much more effective at protecting people from Covid-19 than fabric masks or cloth face coverings,’’ Dr Jack said.

‘‘This is something we can all do to help protect our vulnerable patients and our communities.”

The Red light setting meant the DHB had changed several procedures for dealing with the public, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) gear when dealing with the public and when out in the community, Dr Jack said.

‘‘Seeing DHB staff in PPE gear going into a home does not mean that that household is in self-isolation.’’

The Red light setting, which has stopped a multitude of major events in their tracks, claimed another high-profile festival yesterday after the Otago University Students’ Association cancelled most of its annual Orientation.

Nationally, 105 community transmission cases of Covid-19 were announced by the Ministry of Health yesterday, 15 of which were Omicron cases.

A wide range of new locations of interest was revealed, including Indian temples in Auckland and Hamilton, a polo event in Mt Maunganui, a social football match in Palmerston North and several airline flights.

More than 5800 people nationwide are being managed as potential contacts, 74% of whom have had at least one Covid-19 test. 



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