Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Holiday season warning, most Omicron cases arrived in NZ via UK

As Kiwis prepare for a second festive holiday season under the shadow of Covid-19, health bosses have urged them not to take their health – and the health of others – for granted.

And they have also revealed more about the arrival of the Omicron variant to our shores and those who have brought it here.

The country again recorded a sub-100 tally of fresh cases yesterday.

There were 56 new community cases; 42 in Auckland, four in Waikato, six in the Bay of Plenty, two in the Lakes district, one in Taranaki and one case that was detected in Tairāwhiti is now in Tauranga.

Forty-eight people were in hospital, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said, across Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga. Seven were in ICU.

In a bid to keep the spread of Covid-19 under control during the upcoming holiday period, the MoH has urged people to be cautious over the next few weeks to help protect their own and others’ health.

“People should stick to the basics to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19 over the Christmas and New Year break,” the ministry said.

“That means wearing a mask or face covering and physical distancing in crowded or unventilated spaces and scanning in using the Covid-19 Tracer app or keeping a manual diary.

“As always, people who have any symptoms that could be Covid-19 are asked to get a test and stay at home until they receive a negative result.”

The ministry also renewed calls for those Kiwis yet to be vaccinated to receive the Covid vaccination.

“The vaccine remains our key defence against all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron,” it said. “We continue to ask everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, including people who are now eligible for a booster dose.”

To date, 95 per cent of eligible people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 91 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Eleven district health boards are now fully vaccinated to 90 per cent or higher. Hawke’s Bay and Waikato DHBs have 823 and 2147 doses left to go respectively before reaching the milestone.

As well as the community cases confirmed yesterday, there were also four new cases of Covid-19 at the border – including one historical case that arrived on December 9.

Two infected people arrived in Auckland from Australia on Monday, and another person arrived from Singapore on December 11.

The ministry also revealed yesterday that over the past 24 hours, three new cases of Omicron have been identified in recent returnees in Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities.

The MIQF location breakdown of the 31 international arrivals to New Zealand with the Omicron variant is: 20 are in Auckland (including four via Rotorua), 10 are in Christchurch, and one is in Wellington.

“Of those, 14 came from the United Kingdom, five from the United States, six from African nations, three from Europe, and three from Asia,” the ministry said.

“All remain in managed isolation with the exception of one case who has now recovered and been released as they are no longer infectious.

“Health and MIQ teams have been carefully planning for Omicron cases at the border and will continue to manage all arrivals cautiously. This includes isolation and testing requirements for all new arrivals, robust infection and prevention control and PPE measures at airports and MIQ facilities, and frequent surveillance testing of staff who have any contact with recent international returnees.”

Meanwhile, the recent New Zealand returnee who self-discharged from Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital on Monday, along with their child, has voluntarily returned to an MIQ facility.

The pair returned to MIQ on Tuesday night and have six days of their isolation still to complete.


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