New Zealand reports 24 new community cases amid Omicron alerts

Wellington, Jan 24 (IANS) New Zealand recorded 24 new community cases of Covid-19, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

Among the 24 new community infections on Sunday, 16 are in the largest city Auckland, five in the Lakes region, two in Northland and one in Waikato.

In addition, the country recorded 47 new imported cases of Covid-19 at the border, the Ministry added.

Nine Covid-19 cases reported on Saturday in the Nelson/Tasman region have been confirmed as with the Omicron variant. A further case from the same household involved was confirmed late Saturday. These cases were in a single-family who flew to Auckland earlier in January attending several big events. This cluster has already led to an additional infection of a fully vaccinated Air New Zealand flight attendant, said the Ministry.

Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health from the Ministry of Health, said that the risk of transmission by the confirmed Omicron cases is considered high. The source of the infection is not known yet.

New Zealand will move to Red Light settings from 11:59 p.m. Sunday, announced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier on Sunday, in an effort to prevent the Omicron infections from spreading quickly in the community, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the Red Light settings under the Covid-19 Protection Framework, gatherings will be limited to 100 people in places where Covid-19 vaccine passports are used. Face covering will be mandatory in many indoor spaces such as public transport, public venues and retail shops.

There are currently eight Covid-19 patients being treated in New Zealand hospitals, with none in the intensive care unit.

The country has recorded 15,175 cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 11,490 cases from the latest Delta variant outbreak in the community.

Ardern urged the public to take a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible and to get tested if they have any symptoms of infection.

Ninety-three per cent of the eligible people in New Zealand are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

–IANS

int/khz/