Hipkins ‘very disappointed’ Omicron-infected DJ didn’t follow rules

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Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says he’s very disappointed the British DJ at the centre of an Omicron community scare didn’t follow isolation rules.

The Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday the recent international arrival completed 10 days of isolation, but did not wait for the final test result before going out into the community, and subsequently tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Last night, DJ Dimension outed himself in a social media post as New Zealand’s first community Omicron case. The DJ, Robert Etheridge, had been scheduled to perform at the Rhythm and Alps festival in Wanaka.

He had visited a number of Auckland CBD locations on 26 and 27 December, including the Impala nightclub on Shortland Street, the Sunny town restaurant, Partridge jewellers, Ahi Restaurant and Soul Bar.

“The exact number of contacts is still being confirmed and identified,” Hipkins said.

The DJ was mean’t to be in MIQ for seven days, and then three days in another facility, wait until he received a negative test result came back, and keep to his bubble, Hipkins confirmed.

“That hasn’t been the case here and that’s disappointing,” he said.

He told media this morning Etheridge had been to Waikehe Island, where he visited had drinks with people on a beach. Those at the beach have been told to self-isolate.

“We do understand through social media that the case visited the beach and had drinks with their neighbours whilst they were on Waiheke.”

The DJ had stayed with four people on the island, three of whom had returned negative test results for the virus so far.

There were four positive cases in MIQ at the same time as Etheridge, three of those cases had been ruled out as being linked to his infection. Genome sequencing results have yet to come back for the fourth individual.

Fourteen people who dined at Soul restaurant are now considered close contacts. Eight of those people remain in Auckland, while six flew to Christchurch. They have so far tested negative for the virus and are isolating.

The staff at the restauant are also considered contacts and are asked to monitor for symptoms.

“We knew Omicron would come here, but we ask people to be very careful,” Hipkins said.

People may feel they are over Covid-19 as they enjoy summer, “but it’s clear Covid is not finished with us”, he said.

There were 47 people at the Impala nightclub and all up probably around 100 contacts, Hipkins said.

He said the case had posed a “very low risk” to those sitting in other parts of the restaurant while the positive person was there.

The news came as Auckland prepared to move from the red to the orange setting under the Covid-19 Protection Framework.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on 13 December that Auckland and all other red regions, except Northland, would move to the orange setting at 11.59pm tonight.

“At this case there is no case to reconsider any change to the Auckland boundary or Auckland’s move from red top orange in the traffic light settings,” Hipkins said.

“I know Aucklanders are looking forward to this, that’s still going to happen. Nothing that we’ve seen here suggests that should be revised…

“I don’t want to overreact to this.”

The minister confirmed vaccine booster doses would be rolled out early in January. “I know some Auckland places are doing booster doses already,” he said.

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