January 9, 2022 There have been 85 new community cases of Covid-19 in the past two days. Video / NZ Herald
Sixty-four cases have been identified at the New Zealand border in the past two days, prompting the Kiwis to brace for an Omicron outbreak.
This is just 21 fewer cases than those detected in the community during the same period.
Daily cases detected at MIQ facilities have increased steadily over the past week, often exceeding the number of daily cases emerging in the community.
This creates a higher risk of Omicron leaking into the community, experts have warned, but epidemiologist Michael Baker has said the country is not ready for an outbreak.
Baker urged eligible adults to receive their booster dose and children to be vaccinated starting Jan. 17 in preparation.
More than half a million doses of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine arrived in New Zealand over the weekend, meaning children between the ages of 5 and 11 will be eligible for their first dose starting next Monday.
The Department of Health considers all new cases at the border to be of the Omicron variant, but has not confirmed exactly how many Omicron cases there are in New Zealand.
Whole genome sequencing efforts have been reoriented to focus on frontier workers and their families.
“This is where there is the greatest risk of Omicron entering the community. This new approach will help ensure that the risk of any community transmission of Omicron remains low,” the ministry said.
“These samples will be treated as urgent and tested within 12 hours of receipt by the laboratory.”
Samples from international arrivals will be tested no later than 48 hours after receipt.
“Now that all international arrivals are required to spend 10 full days in a managed isolation facility and return a negative test on day nine prior to release, the risk of community transmission of the Omicron variant from these cases is judged. low, ”he added. the ministry said.
A number of infected returnees have arrived from the UK, US, India and Australia, with significant numbers testing positive on day 0 or 1 of their quarantine.
Baker told Newstalk ZB on Sunday that New Zealand should try to delay Omicron’s arrival in the community “by at least two months,” to give the country time to prepare.
He also said the traffic light system “won’t help us much with Omicron,” and brief, localized lockouts may need to be considered.
“If we had a very intense Omicron outbreak in Auckland, which is probably the most likely place it would start, we would have to think about not overwhelming the healthcare system. And if that worries us, we may need to revert to an Alert Level 3 equivalent. “
Baker supported the government’s decision to close the necessary gap between people receiving their second vaccine dose and a booster dose from six months to four.
He also stressed the importance of vaccinating children early before an Omicron outbreak, in order to minimize damage to them and increase the immunity of the population.
“These are the two most important things,” Baker said.
Childhood immunizations begin Monday, January 17, and they will need two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected.
There are approximately 476,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11, so the supply will be more than enough for all of them to receive their first dose.
The ministry recommends these be given at least eight weeks apart, but said the interval can be safely shortened to a minimum of 21 days if needed.
A parent, guardian or legal guardian will need to accompany the child to their vaccination appointment and give their consent to receive the vaccine, which will be free.
Meanwhile, 85 new community-based Covid-19 cases have been detected over the past two days: 57 in Auckland, seven in Waikato, one in Taranaki, 16 in Bay of Plenty, two in Lakes and two in Wellington.
Two Wellington cases were linked to a recent trip to the Bay of Plenty, and places of interest were posted over the weekend – including a drum & bass festival held in Tauranga.
Festival goers who attended the Netsky, Hybrid Minds, Montell2099, Friction, Holy Goof, Koven & more event at Wharepai Estate on January 3 from 2 p.m. to midnight were asked to monitor themselves for symptoms for 10 days.
A number of establishments in Rotorua, Taupō, Waihi, Tauranga, Queenstown and West Auckland were also listed on Sunday.
Customers of the Village Sports Bar & Cafe in Rotorua, the Eastside Tavern and TAB Gaming Lounge in Hamilton, as well as the Waihi Beach RSA and Waihi Beach Hotel Pub are considered close contacts of cases.