Covid-19: Timing of the Omicron case in the community 'difficult'
A new Covid-19 Omicron case, who had been active in the community, is a worry for Auckland, where restrictions are set to ease at midnight.
Dr Siouxsie Wiles, associate professor of microbiology at Auckland University, said the case “slipped through the net”.
Auckland is due to move to the orange setting of the traffic light framework at 11.59pm on Thursday.
“The timing is really difficult with people expecting to move,” Wiles said.
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The border-related case tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and was “briefly" in the community in Auckland.
“What we don’t know is how infectious the person was [and] when they were out and about,” she said.
“The good news at the moment is that their close contacts have tested negative.”
The case arrived from the United Kingdom on December 16 and tested positive for the virus on day nine, December 27, before being transferred to an MIQ facility.
“What I want to know is why this person was in the community when they haven’t received their test result,” said Wiles.
The case is Dimension, aka Robert Etheridge, a UK electronic music artist who recently arrived in New Zealand.
He had visited a number of locations in Auckland, including nightclub Impala and the city mall Commercial Bay.
Wiles said though transmission might be lower for places with outdoor dining, but “it won’t be zero”.
However, the nightclub Impala is the “kinds of environments where you end up getting a lot of spread”.
Wiles urged Aucklanders to be “really cautious” and for close contacts to isolate.
“Especially with New Year right around the corner, people who are exposed then and go to really big events and they are infectious, then this will take off quite spectacularly,” she said.
Dimension was due to headline the Rhythm & Alps music festival, but was pulled from the line-up, along with DJ Friction, on Wednesday night “due to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19”.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff urged Aucklanders to get the booster vaccine if they are able to, get a test if showing symptoms, and to scan in when out and about.
“Although it was only a matter of time until Omicron made its way into the community, we hoped and continue to hope that it can be contained as much as possible,” he said.