Omicron locations no longer classified separately in Covid list

Source: 1News

The Ministry of Health will no longer let the public know when a location of interest is linked to a case of the Omicron variant.

A NZ Covid Tracer App QR code and hand sanitiser sit at the entrance to a Countdown supermarket.

Health officials announced the change through a small note on the location of interest page on Saturday. In a follow-up statement, the ministry said the change was a result of increasing Omicron cases.

“Given the growing number of Omicron cases, we expect many future cases and their related locations of interest will also likely be due to the Omicron variant.

“The Ministry of Health wants everyone to treat either Delta cases or Omicron cases with the same seriousness, and follow public health advice.”

The change came after multiple close contact locations of interest were added throughout the day on Saturday.

READ MORE: Part of Auckland ferry building among new Covid-19 locations

It said publishing details that pointed out Omicron locations could slow down the ability for them to be published as not all positive cases are genome sequenced.

“Whole genome sequencing is not performed on every case, and when it is, it can also take some time for whole genome sequencing to determine a case’s variant.

“We do not want this to slow down the public health response,” the ministry said.

A health worker with a Covid-19 test tube.

Earlier on Saturday, the Ministry of Health said members of the public should act like the more-contagious variant of the virus was spreading.

"We’re asking everyone in New Zealand to act like Omicron is circulating in their community."

In its statement to 1News, the ministry reiterated the importance of scanning while out and about.

“We would like to reiterate the importance of using the Covid Tracer App to scan in or to manually record movements. This will enable people to quickly determine whether they have been at a location of interest, and help reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

In phases one and two of the Government’s plan to manage Omicron, health officials continue attempting to dampen the virus’ transmission through contact tracing and locations of interest.

In phase three, once there are thousands of new cases a day, there will be “limited” use of locations of interest and Bluetooth tracing.