Ardern: Modelling for Omicron outbreak ‘highly variable’

Maiki Sherman
Source: 1News

It was Delta be damned at Labour’s caucus retreat on Thursday as MPs reunited, maskless, with kisses and hugs at the event where attendees had to have a Covid vaccine pass.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had commented on what she said had been an enjoyable summer for the entire country.

“For a second year in a row in the midst of a global pandemic, Kiwis got the break that they so needed and deserved,” she said.

New Zealanders will need to lap up the last of the golden hour though, with the Prime Minister warning it wouldn’t last.

“Now of course we face a different challenge with Omicron.

“It is not insurmountable but it is a different foe than we’ve had before,” Ardern said.

Countries overseas have seen Omicron cases jump from the hundreds into the thousands in less than a fortnight.

The outlook here could be just as bad.

“The modelling I've seen is highly variable from the thousands to tens of thousands,” Ardern said.

It means a new plan of attack, with the entire country currently in the Orange setting of the traffic light system, including Northland.

“We may not know initially when Covid has moved beyond our border and into the community, but Orange helps provide some protection when it does," Ardern said.

Once detected in the community, New Zealand will move into the Red traffic light setting within 24 to 48 hours.

But that's where the detail ends as more information around how Omicron cases would be managed and who would have to be tested is still being finalised.

Asked why the Government didn’t have that detail mapped out already, the Prime Minister said it was largely done.

“But we're providing information in a staged way,” she said.

It's not the first delay as New Zealand's borders are also now in a holding period.

National leader Christopher Luxon said he’s not convinced the Government knows what it is doing.

“It doesn’t feel like this Labour Government has a plan for omicron. It didn’t have a plan for Delta and it doesn’t look like it has a plan for omicron. It feels like it’s being made up on the fly and on the go,” Luxon said.

The Government is arguing any delay is helping to buy time for children to be vaccinated and others to get a booster shot.

Just over half of those eligible have had a booster shot so far.

“I remain optimistic New Zealanders are returning from their summer holidays, we're seeing people getting boosted as they bring their kids in for vaccines," Ardern said.

“What I want to see is those numbers continuing to increase.”