NZ's first Omicron case discovered in Christchurch MIQ - Bloomfield

Source: 1News

New Zealand’s first Omicron Covid-19 case has been discovered in a Christchurch MIQ facility, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

A health worker with a Covid-19 test tube.

"We’ve identified our first case of Omicron variant in New Zealand," the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told reporters in a media conference.

The person arrived in the country on December 10 on a flight from Germany via Dubai, which landed in Auckland before being transferred to Christchurch.

“All the people in that flight are in two separate hotels in Christchurch," Bloomfield said.

The person with Omicron, who is double vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, is isolating in the Sudima Christchurch Airport hotel after being transferred from the Crowne Plaza MIQ facility in Christchurch. They were tested on day one, and a positive result was reported on day two, on December 12.

The case was reported the following day. Subsequent genome testing confirmed they have the Omicron variant.

They will stay in managed isolation for 14 days, as per the protocols.

Bloomfield reiterated that he believes the country is "very well-prepared" to prevent the spread of Omicron in the community.

"As soon as this person's test came back positive, they were moved into a quarantine facility, so we think there's very little risk to others in the MIQ facility - both staff and people who are staying there."

Contact tracing is underway to identify passengers on the domestic and international flights the case was on, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Thursday evening.

One person on the same flight has already tested positive for Covid-19 on day 0/1 testing, Bloomfield said. Whole genome sequencing for the case confirmed it is the Delta strain.

“We’re doing urgent whole genome sequencing on our cases at the border and we fully expect that we will find a case of Omicron and in fact, we’re treating every border-related case as if it were Omicron until proven otherwise," he said.

“We have good protocols in place that are designed to stop the virus from spreading across the border. That’s served us incredibly well with what we know is already a transmissible variant as Delta."

He wouldn't be drawn on whether more lockdowns would be a possibility should Omicron enter the community, saying, "we just have to see what the situation is, actually".

"Even when we got this Delta incursion back in August, our vaccination rate was lower and we can see the impact of vaccination rates is having on the spread of the virus in the community.

"What we intend to do is, of course, give ourselves as much time as possible to learn from he rapidly emerging evidence."

It comes after the Ministry of Health on Thursday recorded 91 Covid-19 cases in the community - all in the North Island.

Yesterday, it was reported 14 air crew who are isolating in an MIQ facility were due to have their most recent Covid-19 test results back today. They have been classified as close contacts of an Australian Omicron case.