Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Daily community cases could top 400 this week, says expert

New modelling on the Omicron outbreak predicts New Zealand could hit 200 daily cases by tomorrow, doubling to 400 by the end of the week.

Omicron is already so “dominant”, the Ministry of Health announced yesterday it will stop reporting the specific variant of new cases.

The country recorded 91 new Covid-19 new community cases yesterday.

Ten people were in hospital with the virus, none of whom were in intensive care (ICU) or a high-dependency unit (HDU).

The average age of those hospitalised was 54.

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New community cases were reported in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, the Lakes District, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, the ministry said.

Of the 91 new community cases, 65 were in Auckland.

There were also 39 new cases in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ), with travellers coming from the United States, Australia, Britain, India, Pakistan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The latest numbers bring the seven-day rolling average of community cases to 69, and the total number of active cases to 771.

Te Pūnaha Matatini modeller Dr Dion O’Neale said this week was likely to see an upwards shift in case numbers.

“Almost every other place in the world that’s had an Omicron outbreak’s seen a doubling time of around three days. We’d expect New Zealand to be similar.”

Daily cases could jump to 200 by the middle of the week then double to 400 by the weekend.

The ministry said 13,376 booster doses were administered on Sunday taking the total to 1,300,364.

Those eligible were encouraged to get their boosters as soon as they were due.

“Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick and being hospitalised. Being boosted also helps slow the spread of the virus,” the ministry said.

About 95 per cent of those aged over 12 in New Zealand have received one vaccine dose, with 93 per cent of over 12s having at least two doses.

About one in three Kiwi children aged 5-11 had now received their first jab.

Anyone who lives in Porirua and Wellington’s northern suburbs is urged to get a test if they feel unwell with Covid symptoms after a recent positive result in Porirua.

Several new locations of interest were released yesterday, including an Auckland clothing store, a Christchurch hotel, several regional airports, a Gisborne McDonald’s and several food outlets at Auckland Airport domestic terminal.

But as of 7pm last night, no new locations of interest had been classed as high risk,with anyone at the locations at identified times told to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days.

Yesterday Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) urged the Government to update its plans for reopening New Zealand’s borders because Omicron had changed the game.

“The previous plan was developed to respond to Delta, not Omicron. If Omicron becomes endemic in New Zealand, there will be no health reason to keep our borders closed or to continue self-isolation or MIQ for international arrivals,” said TIA spokeswoman Ann-Marie Johnson.

She said New Zealand needed to reconnect with the world, and that people were desperate to reunite with family and friends.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week that Cabinet would be considering changes to the current border settings in the coming weeks, after the phased reopening announced in November was put on hold when Omicron emerged.

“We know that both New Zealanders and tourism operators will face tough times in the next few months so the time for planning for the recovery is now,” Johnson said.

“We need a clear Omicron border opening plan. We believe that enough is known about how the pandemic will play out to justify serious work to develop the plan. On behalf of the industry, TIA is keen to work with the Government to support this.”

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday that changes at the border would be announced “soon”.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister tested negative for Covid-19 yesterday after being identified as a close contact of an infected flight attendant.

“The Prime Minister has returned a negative Covid-19 test,” a spokesperson said.

“In line with Ministry of Health guidance she is required to continue isolating until the end of Tuesday, February 1, or as otherwise advised by Public Health.”

Ardern is due chair today’s Cabinet meeting remotely.

As the Prime Minister is not able to be in the Beehive in person, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will attend today’s post-Cabinet media briefing on her behalf.


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