Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Nearly 1000 people isolated after contact with Omicron case

There are 10 new cases of Omicron to report today. Video / NZ Herald

Nearly 1,000 people are self-isolating after coming into contact with an Omicron case in recent days.

A Department of Health spokesperson said this morning that 993 contacts were associated with confirmed and suspected cases of Omicron.

Ten new cases of Omicron were announced today – part of 25 cases of Covid-19 reported in the community by the ministry.

The new cases bring the total number of Omicron infections in the cluster to 29.

Of today’s new community cases, at least six are in Auckland and are linked, directly or indirectly, to a family event and other events associated with Auckland over the weekend of January 15-16, when the Omicron cluster began to form.

And 89 of those in isolation have been associated with the Ara-Tai cafe at Half Moon Bay in Auckland, which was visited by an Omicron case last Tuesday for an hour and a half.

“Of these, 87 were met, 83 returned a negative Covid-19 and none returned a positive result,” the spokesperson said.

The case visited the cafe between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. last Tuesday and customers who were seated inside and outside the cafe were asked to self-isolate and get tested.

As of this morning, 56 contacts have been linked to a Sky Tower exhibition event last Sunday.

So far, 21 people have returned negative test results and no one has returned a positive result.

The ministry noted that some of the contacts who were not reached by public health personnel or contact tracers returned a negative result.

“This number will fluctuate but, overall, cases and contacts are expected to increase given the highly transmissible nature of Omicron and as we learn more from case interviews.”

Modeling suggests that New Zealand could receive between 5,000 and 50,000 cases per day of the highly transmissible variant. Despite this, Health Minister Andrew Little said yesterday he was confident the health system could cope.

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB’s Tim Dower yesterday that many people who receive the variant will be able to stay at home while they fight the virus.

Health officials continue to research how Omicron entered the community.

The link between the nine Motueka cases and the border is not yet known – leading health officials to believe the highly transmissible variant was circulating in Auckland and potentially the Nelson area.

Tomorrow, an announcement is expected from Cabinet after discussions on a new plan within the traffic light system.


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