Palmerston North locals relaxed despite Omicron case

Source: 1News

Palmerston North residents appear to be relatively relaxed and aren’t flooding Covid-19 testing centres after an Omicron case was confirmed in the area.

1News reporter Kristin Hall, who is in Palmerston North, said the city was looking quiet.

“It was very quiet at the testing centre this afternoon, none of those long queues we’ve seen in the past," she said.

Deputy Mayor Aleisha Rutherford said part of that could be because of Palmerston North’s vaccination rate.

Data from the Ministry of Health showed close to 95 per cent of the city’s residents aged 12 and over was double-vaccinated.

For the MidCentral DHB region, which includes Palmerston North city, that rate is 94 per cent.

The DHB told people not to get too complacent. It wanted locals to keep scanning QR codes and wear face coverings to avoid putting pressure on the health system.

“We can cope with Omicron. We are trying to prevent a huge surge. We’ve been preparing for months,” MidCentral DHB's Dr Jeff Brown said.

The Omicron case in Palmerston North had returned five negative tests while in a Christchurch managed isolation facility.

They were released from MIQ on January 16 and travelled on flight NZ550 from Christchurch to Auckland departing at 2pm, arriving into Auckland 3.20pm.

The person then travelled on NZ5121 from Auckland to Palmerston North at 4.55pm.

The case is only considered to be infectious from Monday 17 January, but those who travelled on either of these flights are asked to get tested immediately as a precaution.

The Ministry of Health said whole genome sequencing identified similarities to border cases identified in Auckland, but no direct links.

As of Friday evening, there were 16 locations of interest in Palmerston North related to the Omicron case.

One of the locations, Cafe 116 Terrace End, is considered a close contact location.

People who were at the cafe between 10.10am and 11.30am on Wednesday, January 19 are being told to self-isolate and get tested immediately.