Covid-19: 16 new cases, including one on West Coast

There are 16 community cases of the virus today, including a historical case on the West Coast, the Ministry of Health has announced.

Today's new community cases are in Auckland, Lakes, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and the West Coast.

The Ministry said the West Coast had been investigated and was deemed historical.

Thirty people are in hospital with the virus - two of which are in ICU.

Forty two new cases have been identified at the border.

A MIQ worker at the Stamford Plaza tested positive for Omicron on Friday and of the 67 close contacts linked them, 43 have already returned negative test results.

Further genome sequencing of the other positive returnee cases at the Stamford Plaza was also being completed.

In a statement released today, the ministry said the objective was to stamp out and prevent any onward transmission.

"With 93% of the eligible population now double-dosed and the booster programme underway, New Zealanders are well protected."

We want vaccinations to continue to increase and ask everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, they said.

Meanwhile, school children are getting their Covid-19 jabs from today while the highly transmissable Omicron variant continues to hover on New Zealand's doorstep.

As Omicron continues to spread like wildfire overseas, Cabinet will meet this week to consider the latest advice from health officials to ensure New Zealand is prepared for when it makes its way into the community.

It will also receive advice on the country's traffic light settings this week and will make an announcement on Thursday.

Meanwhile Northland remains in the red traffic light setting, while the rest of the country is in orange.

The Auckland boundary - which previously meant people who were vaccinated or who had a recent negative Covid test could cross - also opened up to everyone today.

It comes as some experts are warning more restrictions are needed to ensure a larger part of the population has its booster shots before Omicron spreads into the community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that the Government's next steps would be cautious, although she did not say whether caution meant remaining at the orange setting or moving the country down to green.

Ardern said Omicron cases in the community were inevitable and urged people to get their booster shots as soon as they were eligible.

She is getting her third jab today.

Anyone over the age of 18 can now book their booster shots using BookMyVaccine.nz or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline or visiting a walk-in clinic.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health recently reduced the interval between the second dose and a booster dose from six months to four months to help accelerate the rollout and provide greater protection against the Omicron variant.

The Ministry of Health has also updated its booster advice for pregnant people and those who are severely immunocompromised saying it can be given at least four months after the second dose and at any stage during the pregnancy.

"We are urging everyone to receive their booster dose as soon as four months has passed following their second dose. Even if it's been less than four months since your second dose, you can still book ahead to ensure you get the date and time you prefer, once you're eligible."

More than 82% of vaccinated New Zealanders will be eligible for a booster by the end of February.

Yesterday an MIQ worker who tested positive for Omicron was among 25 new community cases.

The border worker, who is understood to work at Stamford Plaza, returned a positive result for Covid-19 late on Friday night and is currently in isolation with another close contact, the Ministry of Health said. The test was taken as part of routine border worker surveillance testing.

Investigations are under way to determine if the infection originated from the community or the facility. The worker is fully vaccinated and up-to-date with regular testing. As of Friday night, all their household contacts had returned negative tests.

The worker is deemed to have been infectious from Monday January 10.

A further 48 close contacts including 39 people who were on two bus trips with the case are now being followed up and told to isolate and get tested.

The two high risk locations of interest are the southern line rail replacement bus on January 13 between 4.50 pm and 6.20pm and the eastern line rail replacement bus between Panmure and Britomart on January 14 between 7.15am and 7.40am.

Anyone on theses journeys should self-isolate and get tested immediately.

Other locations of interest include The Warehouse in Takanini last Wednesday and New World Metro on Thursday and Friday.

Whole genome sequencing has linked the MIQ worker to two returnees within the facility who travelled from India who arrived on January 8 and tested positive two days later.

About a third of the 65 new border cases reported last Wednesday were staying in Auckland's Stamford Plaza facility - the same hotel where the latest community case worked. The vast majority of the cases were the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Auckland Regional Public Health is working with MIQ staff to look for any possible routes of transmission between the returnees and the worker and staff at this facility are in the process of having an additional test arranged.

Ministry of Health data shows the majority of cases popping up at the border are the Omicron variant with 266 cases detected in MIQ since December 1.

Meanwhile new locations of interest continue to pop up around the country with Pine Haven Orchards in Greytown and Community meeting Waihou Community Hall in Waihou both being listed earlier today.

Anyone at these locations must self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days after they were exposed.

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