Health officials say Omicron now ‘dominant’ in New Zealand

Source: 1News

The Ministry of Health will no longer break out Omicron case numbers in daily updates as health officials say it has become the “dominant” variant of the virus in Aotearoa.

Covid-19 test (file photo).

However, it said it would continue to genome sequence all new unlinked cases of the virus.

The ministry initially stopped breaking out Omicron case numbers in its Sunday update, but only provided its rationale on Monday.

“Whole genome sequencing continues to take place on all new unlinked cases of Covid-19 and provides additional information to aid public health decisions.

“The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is now the dominant variant, therefore the specific variant of the virus is no longer being reported alongside case numbers,” the ministry said.

Health officials have been planning for up to 50,000 new cases a day in a worst-case scenario for the Omicron outbreak, according to Health Minister Andrew Little.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has modelled New Zealand facing up to 80,000 new cases a day at the peak of a three-month outbreak.

“As cases continue to increase, the priority for whole genome sequencing will be to highlight patterns of virus spread rather than individual cases,” the ministry said.

New Zealand remains in phase one of the Government’s Omicron plan as cases are below 1000 a day with numbers expected to rise sharply in coming weeks.

“Public health teams are continuing to manage both Omicron and Delta cases in the community through rapidly isolating cases and contacts, contact tracing, and testing to slow the spread,” the ministry said.

Earlier on Saturday, health officials said they would no longer notify whether locations of interest were associated with Omicron cases as case numbers were expected to grow.

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