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Covid-19: MIQ worker contact tests positive, possible Omicron case in Palmerston North | Stuff.co.nz

There are possible new Omicron cases in Auckland and Palmerston North, as officials report 46 new Covid-19 cases at the border, and 39 new community cases.

The Ministry of Health gave the update in a statement on Thursday afternoon, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was giving a post-Cabinet press conference.

An additional contact of the infected MIQ worker in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Health gave the update on Thursday afternoon.

SIMON O'CONNOR/Stuff

The Ministry of Health gave the update on Thursday afternoon.

Officials were also reporting a new possible Omicron case in Palmerston North. The case was in MIQ in Christchurch, and tested negative on day 9, before being released on January 16.

READ MORE:* Covid-19: Positive case in Palmerston North possibly Omicron* Covid-19: Northland to move to orange traffic light setting on Thursday night* Covid-19: Locations of interest in the Delta outbreak - January 20 * Covid-19: Auckland Airport worker, household contact of MIQ worker have Omicron variant

They returned five negative test results throughout their stay in MIQ, before becoming symptomatic on Wednesday and returned a positive test on Wednesday evening.

Urgent whole genome sequencing was under way, but it was being treated as Omicron, the ministry said.This is now routine for border-related cases.

The case was considered to have been infectious from Monday, and an early childhood centre has been identified as an exposure event.

Investigations are under way to determine the source of infection, including possible in-facility transmission.

Auckland Airport, MIQ worker update

There are now three confirmed Omicron cases in the Auckland region, as announced on Wednesday night. These include a MIQ border worker and their household contact, and a worker at Auckland Airport.

At this stage, one additional contact associated with these cases has tested positive for Covid-19. This case is a household contact of the MIQ worker and was already isolating when they tested positive.

Whole genome sequencing is under way, but the assumption is this case has the Omicron variant.

The highest priority for local public health staff relates to contacts who were at the Ara-Tai Café in Half Moon Bay at the same time as the worker at Auckland Airport.

Ara-Tai cafe in Auckland's Half Moon Bay is being considered a high-risk location of interest, after being visited by an infected Auckland Airport worker.

Ryan Anderson/Stuff

Ara-Tai cafe in Auckland's Half Moon Bay is being considered a high-risk location of interest, after being visited by an infected Auckland Airport worker.

This location of interest has been deemed high risk and people who visited the cafe are asked to self-isolate and get tested. This advice was updated on Thursday afternoon to include those sitting outside as well as inside.

As of Thursday morning, a total of 88 contacts had been identified in relation to the MIQ border worker. At this stage, 84 have returned negative test results and two have returned a positive result.

This includes a positive household contact reported earlier this week, and an additional household contact reported on Thursday.

As of this morning, a total of 39 contacts have been identified in relation to the worker at Auckland Airport. At this stage, 13 have returned negative test results.

Investigations into the source of infection are ongoing.

To date, there have been 440 Omicron Covid-19 cases detected at the border since December 1, compared with 32 cases of the Delta variant.

New community cases

The ministry reported 39 new community cases on Thursday: in Auckland (21), Lakes (14), Hawke’s Bay (two), Canterbury (one), West Coast (one).

The Christchurch case and one of the Hawke’s Bay cases were announced on Wednesday as they were notified after the reporting deadline.

Following public health investigation and further testing, the person on the West Coast who returned a weak positive test result earlier this week was deemed to be a historical case, and has been added to the tally today.

All 14 new cases in the Bay of Plenty were in Rotorua, and nine were linked to previously reported cases.

There were also three new cases in Hawke’s Bay, two of which have been linked to known cases.

More than 12,000 children aged 5 to 11 received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, meaning slightly more than 8 per cent of the 476,000 eligible (39,829) have had one dose.

To date, 52 per cent of those eligible for their booster vaccine had received it, with 36,226 boosters given on Wednesday.

Traffic light update

The prime minister on Thursday afternoon advised Northland would move to orange at midnight.

The settings for the rest of the country remain unchanged.

Ardern also announced that all of New Zealand would move to into red within 24-48 hours in the event of a community outbreak of Omicron.

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