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60 new community cases in NZ today: 6 Omicron cases in MIQ; second border-related case

December 30, 2021 3:39 pm

There are 60 new community cases of COVID-19 today – and the second instance of a person with Omicron being in the community.

The Ministry of Health has just released the information.

The ministry says the second border-related case is an Air New Zealand crew member who worked on a flight between Auckland and Sydney on December 24.

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They were tested for Covid-19 in routine surveillance testing on December 27.

“Whole-genome sequencing has confirmed the Omicron variant and has also confirmed the case is linked to three other Omicron cases on the same flight,” the ministry said.

“The case was immediately transferred to a MIQ facility.

“The case is fully vaccinated. Eight close contacts have been identified, seven of whom have returned negative test results.

“At this stage, there are no known locations of interest.”

Earlier today, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said up to 100 people could be isolating as a result of close contact with the man who tested positive for Omicron and spent time in the community.

Last night it was revealed an Omicron-positive person – who later turned out to be British DJ Dimension, real name Robert Etheridge – had been active in the Auckland community for two days.

The DJ – who had travelled to New Zealand to perform at the Rhythm & Alps festival – spent seven days in MIQ, before then transferring to an approved beachside location for MIQ.

Etheridge ended his stint and spent two days in the community – including going to Auckland bars and restaurants and Waiheke Island – before he got the results of his day-nine Covid test; the one which would come back as positive.

Testing is available on Waiheke Island today, the ministry said at 1pm.

Anyone who attended the Hidden Lakes Festival – where a close contact of the DJ performed – and is concerned should ring Healthline, the ministry said.

Only a small number of contacts of this case attended the festival, all of whom had negative tests beforehand. The public health risk is considered low, the ministry said.

At this stage, there are no known contacts or cases associated with Rhythm & Alps festival.

A further interview with the DJ is under way to determine additional locations of interest, the ministry said.

The ministry said Etheridge arrived on December 16 “and as required under the previous regime for international arrivals, completed a full 10 days in isolation; seven days in a managed isolation facility and three days in self-isolation. They were tested on day nine but did not wait for a negative test result before self-releasing.

“Under the previous regime, those leaving a managed isolation facility were able to complete their three days self-isolation at home or in other accommodation. The case completed their self-isolation on Waiheke Island, we understand they travelled by private car and ferry to the island. While on the ferry they did not leave their vehicle and travelled straight to their accommodation.

“All international arrivals are now required to complete their full 10 days of isolation in a managed isolation facility and must return a negative day nine test before they are released.

“From January 7, all travellers to New Zealand will have to have a PCR test no more than 48 hours before flying, down from the current 72 hours.

“Contact tracing has identified a number of known close contacts, all of whom are being contacted and asked to isolate and test.

“This includes close contacts identified via case interviews and from locations of interest including Impala nightclub. Additionally, push notifications have been sent to any person who scanned into any LOI that the case visited.

“These notifications include public health advice on testing and isolation. All identified close contacts are being urgently contacted by contact tracers.”

The ministry said whole genome sequencing of the other Omicron cases at the same managed isolation facility showed “the case is not linked to others who stayed at the same facility. At this stage, there is no evidence of in facility transmission”.

The Canterbury District Health Board has also just confirmed that six close contacts of the international artist with Omicron are self-isolating in Christchurch under the management of the local public health unit.

A spokesperson said the public health risk assessment for people who attended the Hidden Lakes festival at Hagley Park on December 28 is considered extremely low – particularly due to the six close contacts’ prior negative test results that day and significant physical distance between the stage and the crowd.

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