Covid-19 update: 49 new community cases in New Zealand, no new Omicron in the community


There are 49 new community cases of Covid-19, but no new Omicron cases in the community to report, the Ministry of Health has announced.

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In today’s statement, the Ministry said there were 10 Omicron cases to report among recent arrivals at the border, bringing the total at the border to 88.

But it said there were no community Omicron cases to report and all the close contacts to the two cases who were in the community this week have so far tested negative.

The Ministry said microbiologists had advised that the risk of transmission from the Omicron border case announced on Wednesday was low.

The six close contacts of the case who attended the Hidden Lakes festival had all tested negative for Covid-19 and the Ministry said this meant there was no public health risk associated with this event.

“Contact tracing has now identified 88 close contacts for this case. This includes close contacts identified via case interviews and from locations of interest. Eighty of these contacts have been reached, all are isolating and have been tested. All results received to date have been negative. Contact tracers are working urgently to contact the eight close contacts who are yet to be reached.”

All eight close contacts of the border-related Omicron case in an Air NZ crew member have returned negative tests and there are no locations of interest associated with this case.

The Ministry said it was now assuming all recent arrivals who test positive have the Omicron variant, so it will now prioritise whole genome sequencing for any positive cases in border-related workers and their families.

“This is where there is the greatest risk of Omicron entering the community. This new approach will help to ensure the risk of any community transmission of Omicron remains low. These samples will be treated as urgent and tested within 12 hours of being received by the laboratory.”

Community cases and hospitalisations

The Ministry said 46 people with the coronavirus are in hospital, with eight in intensive care. The average age of the patients is 57.

Today’s community cases were reported in Auckland (22), Waikato (3), Bay of Plenty (19), Rotorua (2), Taupo (2) and Hawke’s Bay (1).

The 19 new cases in Bay of Plenty today include 17 in Tauranga and two in Western Bay of Plenty. Ten are linked to previously reported cases, and all cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

The Napier case was first announced by the DHB yesterday and investigations continue into links to any previous cases.

A second case – who is a close contact of the first – was notified after the reporting cut-off and will be included in tomorrow’s figures.

All known close contacts of the cases have been identified and are now isolating and being tested for Covid-19.

The locations of interest in the Wellington region listed on the Ministry of Health’s website yesterday were from a case that travelled from Wellington to Gisborne, the Ministry confirmed today. This case has been previously reported and is included in Tairāwhiti case numbers.

There were also 13 new cases identified at the border today, with travellers arriving from Canada, USA, UK, Australia, UAE, and Singapore.

Yesterday there were 60 new community cases reported in New Zealand. There have also been two cases of the Omicron variant in the community confirmed in the past two days.

Pacific vaccinations reach 90 percent

The ministry also said today that 90 percent of eligible Pacific peoples in New Zealand have now are now fully vaccinated, with 258,713 having had their second dose.

Hawke’s Bay DHB has also reached the milestone of 90 percent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated.

More than 300,000 people have received a booster – about 70 percent of those eligible to get their booster after six months since second dose in 2021. From 5 January, people only need to wait four months since their last dose and will be able to access a booster through walk in clinics.

The number of vaccines given yesterday included 963 first doses; 4916 second doses; 390 third primary doses and 17,116 booster doses.

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