NZ‘s first Omicron case confirmed
The case is in Managed Isolation in Christchurch having arrived in the country from Germany, via Dubai.
That person arrived in Auckland before being transferred via a chartered domestic flight with the other passengers on board to Christchurch.
They were tested on day one which returned positive on day two, December 12, of their MIQ stay. Whole genome sequencing has since confirmed it is the Omicron variant.
Another case on the same flight also tested positive for Covid-19 but testing has confirmed this is the Delta variant.
The person is double vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
Everyone on the flight and on the same floor of the hotel as the Omicron case is being treated as a close contact and will be required to conduct the full 10 day isolation period in MIQ.
Bloomfield confirmed the new case would stay in MIQ for the full 14 days as part of the new protocol.
"We have every intention of keeping Omicron out of the country for as long as possible."
When asked if Omicron spreading into the community could mean a return to lockdown, Dr Bloomfield was non-committal.
Ministers will discuss the potential need to reduce the gap between second dose and booster vaccinations tomorrow, given the variant’s highly transmissible nature.
“The key point to make is that the person is in managed isolation, as are all those from the flight,” says Dr Bloomfield.
“This is not a case that is out in the community. So if you are unwell, get a test, but there is no particularly heightened risk to Cantabrians at this moment.”
Dr Bloomfield warns that whilst there is evidence that the Omicron variant may cause less severe illness, it’s high transmissibility could still “drive more hospital admissions and potentially deaths” if it reaches the community.
“We will be looking very closely at the emerging evidence on this over the next one to two weeks.”