Covid 19: Today’s case numbers; Auckland Airport worker has Omicron variant, five flights linked to Nelson cases

There are 43 new Covid community cases of Covid-19 today, with 41 new cases detected at the border.

Today’s new community cases include 19 in Auckland, four in Waikato, six in the Lakes District Health Board region, six in Hawke’s Bay and eight in Nelson Marlborough.

There are eight people in hospital, inlcuding four in North Shore, three in Auckland and one in Middlemore.

There have been 76 contacts identified to date linked to the Palmerston North Omicron case.

All but two have been contacted and 66 have returned a negative result. Further test results will be reported Sunday.

The suspected Omicron case of an Auckland Airport worker – reported yesterday – is now also confirmed as having the Omicron variant, the Ministry of Health said.

As announced yesterday the case was being treated as an Omicron case prior to this being confirmed.

The case has been potentially linked to returnees in Rotorua and Auckland through whole genome sequencing.

This information will assist investigations to determine the source of infection, the ministry said.

There have been 32 contacts identified, around half have been contacted and tested. As reported yesterday there has been one positive result reported in a household member and 16 other contacts have returned a negative result.

Public health staff are continuing to focus on identifying people who were at the Ara-Tai Café Half Moon Bay in Eastern Auckland.

Of the 78 contacts identified and linked to the café, 48 have returned a negative result.

The ministry said this location of interest is high risk and people who were at Half Moon Bay’s Ara-Tai Café from 12.30 to 2pm on Tuesday (January 18) are urged to isolate and get tested immediately, and to test again on Sunday, January 23.

Anyone who visited the café during this time and hasn’t already done so, should also contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to register at this location or register online.

It’s a timely reminder to all potential close contacts of a case to either call Healthline or register their location of interest online on the Ministry of Health locations of Interest page and follow advice from a health professional, as this is advice is specific to an individual and the exposure event.

Five flights have now been linked to the nine cases in the Nelson Tasman region reported yesterday will be listed today as locations of interest.

An Air New Zealand crew member on the same Auckland to Nelson flight as the nine cases has now tested positive.

This flight and four other flights the crew member worked on during their possible infectious period, prior to their testing positive, are now also listed as locations of interest. The flights are:

• Flight NZ 5083 from Auckland to Nelson at 5.20 pm on January 16
• Flight NZ 5080 from Nelson to Auckland at 4 pm on January 19
• Flight NZ 5077 from Auckland to Nelson at 2pm on January 19
• Flight NZ 5049 from Auckland to New Plymouth at 7.50 pm on January 19
• Flight NZ 5042 from New Plymouth to Auckland at 1.50 pm on January 20

Air New Zealand report their crew member is fully vaccinated, and the positive case was found after the crew member felt unwell and was tested on top of the regular surveillance testing.

All those on the flights are in the process of being contacted and provided with advice.

Whole genome sequencing for the Nelson Tasman cases and the Air New Zealand crew member are expected later today.

The nine Nelson Tasman cases are all from one household, the ministry said.

Eight of these cases were notified yesterday after the ministry’s reporting deadline and are today being added to the official tally. There are no additional new cases to report in the region today.

Experts hope to know the variant of the cases later today once genome sequencing is completed.

Anyone who was on these flights and who has not yet been contacted should get tested and isolate at home.

Public health officials report a strong response to testing yesterday afternoon and are expecting further demand over the weekend.

Testing sites are operating in Nelson and Motueka today and over the weekend. For details of all dedicated testing sites including general practices, visit Healthpoint or the DHB Facebook page

The seven day rolling average for daily community cases is now at 25, while the rolling average of new cases picked up at the border is 41.

There are now 478 active Covid community cases.

Since the Delta outbreak started last August, there has been 11,466 cases detected with 8715 of those being linked back to people known to have earlier had the virus.

The number of active cases being managed by health teams is now at 4879.

Seventy-eight per cent of those contacts have received a call from health teams advising them to isolate and get tested with 78 per cent also having returned at least one Covid test result.

There are no unexpected detections of Covid in wastewater samples.

Health teams gave out 58,481 vaccinations yesterday.

That included 42,319 booster shots and 12,388 vaccinations given to 5-11 year olds.

“New Zealand’s vaccine rollout remains our key defence against all variants of COVID-19, including Omicron and we want to continue to thank everyone who got their first, second or booster shot yesterday, and thanks too to all the 5-11 years who went along for their first dose,” the ministry said.

Lakes DHB has now hit the 90 per cent double dose mark, while 95 per cent of eligble Hutt Valley residents are now also double dosed.

There has now been 946,449 booster shots been given out across New Zealand.

Ninety-three per cent of eligible Kiwis have already had two shots and 95 per cent have had a single vaccine dose.

Eighty-four per cent of Maori are double dosed ahead of the potential arrival of the Omicron variant and 89 per cent have had a single dose.

Ninety-three per cent of eligible Pacific Peoples are double dosed, while 96 per cent have had a single shot.

There are no Kiwis in intensive care with Covid at the moment.

Out of the eight people in hospital, none are unvaccinated, one is partially vaccinated (having had one dose or being less than 14 days after their second shot), the other seven people are fully vaccinated.

The average age of those in hospital is 63.

Auckland

There are 19 new cases to report in Auckland.

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 725 people in the region to isolate at home, including 158 cases.

Waikato

There are four new cases in Waikato to report today. All are in Hamilton and linked to previous cases.

Public Health, primary care and manaaki providers in the region are supporting 22 cases to isolate at home.

Lakes

There are six new cases in the Lakes DHB region – all are in the Rotorua area.

All six cases are linked to previously reported cases.

All cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

Hawke's Bay

There are six cases in Hawke’s Bay, including one that health teams initially announced in yesterday’s statement.

The five new cases are all linked to existing cases.

As investigations continue, more locations of interest may be added to the Ministry’s website.

Palmerston North on edge as Omicron case confirmed

A positive case in Palmerston North was confirmed to be the Omicron variant yesterday, with at least 16 locations of interest.

The person was released from a Christchurch MIQ facility on Sunday, having returned five negative tests, before travelling to Palmerston North and visiting several public places.

Officials are yet to pinpoint the source of their infection, though genome sequencing has identified similar but not direct links to borders cases found in Auckland.

University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the sheer number of Covid-19 cases in MIQ – now 559 in international travellers and the seven-day average for cases at the border hitting 40 – indicated New Zealand was on the brink of an outbreak.

“We’ve never had anything like that [regarding] infected people sitting in MIQ, ever, nothing even remotely close to that.

“The Omicron pattern is continuing almost inexorably towards an outbreak in New Zealand.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week if transmission of the Omicron variant was detected in the community, all of New Zealand would move to the red traffic light setting within 24 to 48 hours.

Meanwhile, an Auckland cafe and a Rotorua bar are the latest placesto be added to the locations of interest list.

A Covid-19 case visited Kasper’s Sports Bar (Gaming Room) in Tutanekai St in Rotorua on Tuesday between 6.30pm and 8pm. Patrons who were exposed are being told to self-isolate and get a test immediately and after five days.

A Covid-19 case also visited Rise n Shine Cafe, Paerata (near Pukekohe) on Sunday between 11.15am and 1pm. Patrons are asked to self monitor for symptoms for 10 days after exposure.

There were nine cases confirmed in Nelson yesterday, all from the same household in Motueka. They are the first cases in the region in a month, and public health officials are investigating recent travel to Auckland as the source of infection.

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