65 new cases at NZ’s border, most expected to be Omicron

Source: 1News

There were 65 new cases of Covid-19 detected at New Zealand's border on Wednesday.

Covid-19 test (file photo).

The Ministry of Health said the cases are still undergoing genome sequencing but expects the “vast majority” will be the Omicron variant.

The number of new detected cases marks the largest single-day increase in cases reported at the border, this year.

There are 217 Covid-19 border cases still in the process of genome sequencing, according to the ministry.

The growth in border cases comes after new rules came into effect which tightened pre-departure testing requirements for international arrivals.

The rules, which came into effect last Thursday, reduced the window for pre-departure testing to within 48 hours of departure.

Other measures, which had been implemented in December, included increasing the number of days that returnees had to stay in managed isolation before being let into the community.

In its Wednesday statement, the ministry said there had been 196 cases of the Omicron variant detected at the border since the beginning of December and only 11 cases of the Delta variant.

Earlier on Monday, University of Otago epidemiologist professor Michael Baker told RNZ that a community outbreak of the Omicron variant was inevitable with rising case numbers at the border.

"We're getting more than 20 cases a day in the last three days. That's going to put huge strain on the MIQ system, as we know every infection that arrives increases the risk of border failure.”

University of Otago senior lecturer Lesley Gray told RNZ that more should be done to ensure Omicron doesn’t get into the community.

"We know that for every approximately 100 that we have in MIQ there is a risk that there might be one that might end up in the community.

"We do have to ask the questions of 'how, what, when, and why'. As these people travel, they're distanced for the most part on the planes, when they're in airports they're wearing masks and they have to take a reasonable number of precautions," Gray said on Monday.

Over 250 cases of Covid-19 have been reported from border facilities since the beginning of 2022.