Eight new cases of Omicron in three areas

The wait for vaccines outside a Balmoral, Auckland centre today. Photo: NZ Herald
The wait for vaccines outside a Balmoral, Auckland centre today. Photo: NZ Herald
There are eight new community cases of Omicron to report today, bringing the total in New Zealand to 19, the Ministry of Health has revealed.

Of the eight new Omicron cases – two are in the Nelson/Tasman region and are contacts of existing cases, five cases are in Auckland linked to one of the reported family events, and there is an additional case in Palmerston North, a household contact who was already isolating and linked to the previously reported Palmerston North Omicron case.

Public health officials are continuing to manage Omicron cases in the community through rapidly isolating cases and contacts, contact tracing, and testing in order to slow the spread.

The number of cases and contacts are expected to grow given the highly transmissible nature of Omicron and as we learn more from case interviews.

"As part of our collective preparations for Omicron, please check your details are up to date with your regular healthcare provider and in the Covid-19 Tracer app.

"We also continue to urge anyone with symptoms, or anyone who has been to a location of interest at the times notified, to isolate immediately and get tested promptly."

Further locations of interest have been identified across Auckland and the Nelson Tasman region and these will be published on the Ministry’s website as they are confirmed.

Along with the Omicron cluster cases, there are 17 other confirmed community cases throughout the country, bringing the total cases reported today to 25.

The location breakdown of these new cases are:  Northland (4), Auckland (13), Waikato (4), Lakes (1), MidCentral (1)*, Nelson Tasman(2)*.

There are currently 10 people with Covid-19 in hospital and there are still no patients in ICU or HDU.

One of Nelson Tasman cases was first announced yesterday and had been officially added to the case numbers today. Both cases are linked to previously reported Omicron cases.

The Palmerston North case is a household contact of previously reported Omicron case and this case was already isolating.

In addition to the community cases reported today, there are two confirmed historical border cases in Canterbury to report.

Residents and staff of an Auckland aged residential care facility have been tested for Covid-19 after a worker who tested positive was linked to the current Omicron outbreak.

The rest home is now closed to visitors.

Test results for residents and staff are currently being processed. The test results returned so far have been negative.

Whole Genome Sequencing is being carried out however the ministry is treating this as an Omicron case.

The four new cases in Northland are all in the Kaitaia area and are all contacts of previously reported cases in Kaitaia.

There are four new cases in the Waikato today, which are all linked to previously reported cases. Two are from Hamilton, one if from Atiamuri and one with location under investigation.

There is one new case to report in the Rotorua District, linked to a previously reported case.

Whole genome sequencing

With the evolving international data on Omicron and new community cases of the variant, we have recently amended the prioritisation of whole genome sequencing on positive cases of Covid-19.

As Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the New Zealand community, we are prioritising whole genome sequencing for any unlinked positive cases of Covid-19 in the community. This new approach will help to detect any cases of Omicron as quickly as possible, establish any links to existing cases, and slow the spread of the virus. These samples will be treated as urgent and tested within 12-24 hours of being received by the laboratory.

Furthermore, as we are now assuming all recent arrivals who test positive have the Omicron variant, we will also prioritise whole genome sequencing for any positive cases of Covid-19 in border-related workers and their families.

Previously we prioritised whole genome sequencing for cases of Covid-19 in international arrivals. Samples from international arrivals will still be analysed as part of routine sequencing.

Today the Ministry of Health confirmed there were 50 new Covid cases detected at the border in MIQ.


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