There are eight new cases of the omicron variant in the community.
Two are in the Nelson/Tasman region and are contacts of existing cases, five cases are in Auckland linked to previously reported family events, and a household contact linked to the Palmerston North omicron case has also tested positive.
That pushes the number of omicron community cases up to 19, with the Ministry of Health now referring to it as the January omicron cluster.
“The number of cases and contacts are expected to grow given the highly transmissible nature of omicron and as we learn more from case interviews,” said a ministry spokesperson.
“As part of our collective preparations for omicron, please check your details are up to date with your regular healthcare provider and in the Covid-19 Tracer app.”
As a result of omicron’s arrival into the community, any unlinked positive cases of Covid-19 in the community will be prioritised for genome sequencing. “This new approach will help to detect any cases of omicron as quickly as possible, establish any links to existing cases, and slow the spread of the virus. These samples will be treated as urgent and tested within 12-24 hours of being received by the laboratory,” said the ministry.
All recent arrivals who test positive at the border will be assumed to have the omicron variant.
25 new community cases overall
There are 25 new community cases of Covid-19 overall, including the eight announced omicron cases. The remainder are likely linked to the ongoing delta outbreak.
There are also 43 new cases at the border. These are assumed to be omicron-related cases.
In Northland, four new cases have been confirmed in the Kaitaia area. All are contacts of previously reported cases in Kaitaia.
There are 13 cases to report in Auckland today. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 676 people in the region to isolate at home, including 157 cases.
There are four new cases in the Waikato today, which are all linked to previously reported cases. Two are from Hamilton, one if from Atiamuri and one with location under investigation.
There is one new case to report in the Rotorua District, linked to a previously reported case.