Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 103 new cases today, person in 70s dies with Covid

There are 103 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, and one new death.

The Ministry of Health says the person who died was in their 70s, had a number of underlying health conditions and was receiving appropriate ward-level care.

They were a patient at Auckland’s North Shore Hospital.

The Ministry did not say how many of today’s cases had been confirmed as Omicron, but it’s likely most of the community cases will be Omicron, rather than Delta.

Fifty-six of these cases are in Auckland, with the others spread across Northland, Waikato, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Hawke’s Bay, MidCentral, Taranaki, Wellington, and Nelson-Tasman.

There are 11 people in hospital with Covid. None are in ICU or HDU.

While there were 56 cases to report in Auckland, a technical issue meant there were about 40 more cases that hadn’t been added and would be reported tomorrow.

Public health teams were continuing to manage Omicron cases in the community, the Ministry said.

“We are expecting the number of cases connected to the Soundsplash music festival in Hamilton last weekend to grow over the coming days as further test results are received. The Ministry of Health is continuing to advise all attendees to get a test, if they have not already done so.”

Everyone in New Zealand was asked to act as if Omicron was circulating in their community.

“That means wearing a mask, physical distancing and scanning in using the Covid-19 Tracer app, when you’re out and about.”

The most common early symptoms of Omicron were a sore or scratchy throat, and a runny nose. People with these symptoms, should get a test, and stay at home until receiving a negative result.

In the last 24 hours there were 18,765 tests, including 9832 in Auckland.

Yesterday 9,108 children aged between 5-11 received a vaccine dose, bringing the total to 159,296.

There were also 30,146 booster doses yesterday, with 1,287,972 people now boosted.

Overall 96 per cent of over-12s have had a first dose of the vaccine, including 764 people who got their first dose on Saturday.

And 94 per cent have had a second dose including 1300 from Saturday.

For Māori people over 12, 90 per cent have had a first dose and 85 per cent have had their second. Of Māori tamariki aged between 5-11, just 18 per cent have had their first dose – compared to 33 per cent of children aged 5-11 across the population.

Pacific peoples are 97 per cent for first doses and 94 per cent for second doses, while 23 per cent of Pacific children aged 5-11 have had a dose of the paediatric vaccine.

The update comes as the Prime Minister awaits a Covid test result after a flight attendant on her flight NZ8273 from Kerikeri to Auckland tested positive for Covid-19.

All those on the flight, which include Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro and Ardern’s chief press secretary Andrew Campbell, are considered close contacts.

The Prime Minister took a PCR test this morning and is waiting for the result, which could come later today.

Ardern “remains asymptotic and continues to feel well,” a spokesperson said.

Ardern and Kiro were returning from Waitangi last Saturday after filming pre-recorded speeches for Waitangi Day.

That flight has been deemed as “high risk” on the Ministry of Health’s updated locations of interest list.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s office shortly after 10pm on Saturday said: “Whole genome sequencing for the case has been requested with an expected result on Sunday.

“The result is expected to indicate that the case has been infected with the Omicron variant and the public health response reflects this.

“All other passengers on board NZ8273 are also deemed close contacts and are required to self-isolate, get tested immediately and remain in isolation for 10 days following their exposure.”

They will also need to follow further isolation and testing requirements provided by public health officials.

“The Prime Minister is asymptomatic and is feeling well. In line with Ministry of Health advice she will be tested immediately [on Sunday] and will isolate until Tuesday,” the statement said.

“The Governor-General and members of her staff were also on board and are following the same isolation instructions.

Yesterday, a total of 97 new community cases of Covid-19 were reported – 11 of which had been confirmed as the Omicron variant.

Rotorua Airport among locations of interest

A Burger Fuel restaurant in New Plymouth with indoor seating has been listed as a high risk Covid-19 location of interest today.

Health officials said anyone who visited Burger Fuel at Elliott St between 2pm and 3pm on January 25 should self-isolate and get tested for Covid immediately.

A second test should be taken on day five and further isolation and testing requirements will be provided, said health officials.

Earlier, three Wellington region businesses, Rotorua Airport and a burger restaurant in Kerikeri were named locations of interest this morning.

None of the locations of interest are deemed high risk but people are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days, get a test and stay at home until they get a negative test result.

The three locations of interest in the Wellington region are Synergy Hair at Queensgate between 4pm and 5pm on January 23, SuperValue at Cannons Creek in Porirua between 11.05am and 11.15am on Janaury 24, and Preservatorium Cafe at Te Aro in central Wellington between 7.37am and 8.10am on Janaury 25.

Anyone who was at Rotorua Airport betwen 9.54am and 10am on January 27 and Burger Fiasko in Kerkeri between 3.30pm and 4pm on January 27 must follow the self-monitoring guidelines.

Act: Case should be a 'turning point'

Act Party leader David Seymour said the fact it had taken seven days to identify close contacts showed contact tracing was a “costly charade” that had little effect on spread.

“Once again the Government has been caught taking a nap as it takes seven long days to identify close contacts of Omicron,” Seymour said.

“Jacinda was a close contact of an Omicron case a week before it was made public. She was a close contact on Saturday 22nd and the public was informed on Saturday a week later.

“This experience should be a turning point for Jacinda’s approach to Covid. She might ask herself ‘Why am I isolating when contact tracing is too slow for it to be effective, maybe we should stop forcing otherwise healthy people to isolate if it makes no difference? How many other people am I willing to put through this?”

Cases could double roughly every three days – modeller

As the PM and Governor-General isolate, New Zealanders have been told they should expect Covid-19 cases to roughly double every three days from now on and to assume all new infections are Omicron.

Yesterday, just 11 of the 97 new community cases had been confirmed as the Omicron variant.

However, University of Auckland Covid-19 modeller and expert in the spread of complex networks, Dr Dion O’Neale, said at this stage of the Omicron outbreak we should assume all new cases are of that more infectious variant.

“Even if we expected Delta numbers to be growing a little bit as people came back from holiday, it was only a few days ago that we had enough Omicron cases to be comparable to Delta.

“We’d expect from that point Omicron to growing much faster, if for no other reason than the current vaccine levels are giving you much more protection against Delta than they are against Omicron.”

Active cases being treated as Omicron have now been detected in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, MidCentral, Canterbury, Tairāwhiti/Gisborne and Nelson-Tasman.

To date, 116 community cases of Covid-19 have either been confirmed by whole genome sequencing as the Omicron variant or have been linked to a previously reported Omicron case.

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