updatesDec30

Live UpdatesDec 30 2021

Almost 100 contacts of omicron-positive DJ identified; Air NZ crew member tests positive

  • An omicron-positive arrival from the UK has been active in the community in Auckland before receiving their positive test result, when they should have been isolating.
  • The case has been revealed as DJ Dimension, AKA Robert Etheridge, who was in New Zealand for the Rhythm & Alps festival.
  • Almost 100 contacts of the case have been identified, including six who flew to Christchurch to perform at a festival.
  • Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said it was made clear to those self-isolating that they must stay isolated until their day nine test result comes back, and it was “really disappointing” that the rules hadn’t been followed.
  • A second border-related omicron case in the community has been identified, an Air NZ crew member who worked on an Auckland-Sydney flight on December 24. Eight close contacts have been identified and there are no locations of interest at this stage.
  • Auckland is due to move from the red setting to orange at midnight tonight, meaning no capacity limits if vaccine passes are used.
updatesDec30

Almost 100 contacts of omicron-positive DJ identified; Air NZ crew member tests positive

  • An omicron-positive arrival from the UK has been active in the community in Auckland before receiving their positive test result, when they should have been isolating.
  • The case has been revealed as DJ Dimension, AKA Robert Etheridge, who was in New Zealand for the Rhythm & Alps festival.
  • Almost 100 contacts of the case have been identified, including six who flew to Christchurch to perform at a festival.
  • Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said it was made clear to those self-isolating that they must stay isolated until their day nine test result comes back, and it was “really disappointing” that the rules hadn’t been followed.
  • A second border-related omicron case in the community has been identified, an Air NZ crew member who worked on an Auckland-Sydney flight on December 24. Eight close contacts have been identified and there are no locations of interest at this stage.
  • Auckland is due to move from the red setting to orange at midnight tonight, meaning no capacity limits if vaccine passes are used.
Dec 30 2021

Second border-related omicron case in community

An Air New Zealand crew member has tested positive for the omicron variant of Covid-19 after working on a flight between Auckland and Sydney on December 24, the Ministry of Health has announced.

The infection was picked up in routine surveillance testing on December 27 and the case was immediately moved to an MIQ facility. The infection has been linked by genome sequencing to three other omicron cases on the same flight. Eight close contacts have been identified, seven of whom have tested negative so far. There are no locations of interest at this stage.

Meanwhile, the ministry has said the omicron-positive DJ who was active in the community travelled by private car and car ferry to Waiheke Island, and did not leave their vehicle while on the ferry.

There are six new omicron cases in MIQ today, taking the total to 48. The ministry also announced 60 new Covid cases in the community today, one in Northland, 20 in Auckland, 28 in Waikato, eight in Bay of Plenty, one in Lakes, one in Tairāwhiti and one in Canterbury. Twenty-four of the Waikato cases are in Te Kūiti, the majority of whom are connected to two exposure events and had been notified they were contacts by public health teams before testing positive, said the ministry.

Yesterday, 13,581 tests were carried out, an increase after several days of low testing numbers over the holiday period.

Almost 100 contacts of omicron-positive DJ identified; six flew to Christchurch and performed at festival

Six people who dined with the omicron-positive DJ who was active in the community in Auckland while awaiting results of his day nine test flew to Christchurch and performed at a festival last night, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has announced.

Robert Etheridge, the British DJ who has identified himself as the case announced by the Ministry of Health last night, dined with 14 people at Soul Bar on December 26. Eight of them remain in Auckland, while six flew to Christchurch by charter plane and performed at the Hidden Lakes festival in Hagley Park last night, said Hipkins at a press conference in Raumati. The six returned negative saliva tests before flying and also tested negative again prior to performing, said Hipkins. They’re now being followed up by Christchurch public health officials and will undergo additional PCR tests. Other staff and patrons at Soul are considered casual contacts. The public health risk to people at the festival is considered low.

Four people who stayed with the case at the Waiheke property he was self-isolating at are considered close contacts. Three have returned negative tests, with one outstanding. The group, including the positive case, visited the beach and had drinks with neighbours when they should have been isolating, said Hipkins. He didn’t know how the case had travelled to Waiheke.

He said it’s made clear to those isolating that they must have contact only with those in their bubble, and must stay in isolation until the day nine result is returned. It was “really disappointing” that the rules hadn’t been followed here.

“We’ve gone from a situation where we could have had two or three close contacts but now we’ve got to nearly 100, including people who were to perform,” said Hipkins.

Etheridge stayed at a hotel after leaving MIQ and one close contact has been identified, who is isolating and has returned one negative result.

Hipkins confirmed that the case was tested on December 24, with the result returned on December 27. The delay was due to the holiday period, he said.

Four other omicron cases in MIQ, three unlinked

Four other omicron cases were in the same MIQ facility as the case who was active in the community while awaiting a day nine test result, and genome sequencing has confirmed three of them are not linked to each other or to the DJ. Results for the fourth are yet to be returned.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said it was relatively rare for someone to test positive for omicron after day six in isolation, so the source of the infection was being investigated.

‘We still don’t have the full picture’

“All updates so far are encouraging but we still don’t have the full picture of this,” said Hipkins. “With omicron’s hyper transmissibility, we’ve known for some time it was going to make its way into the community.

“We continue to take the approach of doing everything we can to stop omicron transmitting in the community.”

On how Etheridge was able to travel to New Zealand when New Zealand citizens have been unable to secure spots in MIQ, Hipkins said the DJ secured the room in a release that was undersubscribed. He defended the fact he was allowed to travel here, saying “we do get a lot out of having them [performers] come to New Zealand”, and reiterated that Etheridge was one of the last travellers to be allowed to isolate at home for the final three days since new rules came in on December 21, a few days after his arrival.

Watch live: Hipkins on Auckland omicron scare

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins is fronting an 11am press conference in Raumati after an Omicron-positive DJ was active in the Auckland community after leaving MIQ. You can watch below or follow along for rolling updates.

Omicron-positive DJ active in community apologises; Hipkins press conference at 11am

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins is fronting a press conference at 11am following news that a person infected with omicron visited a number of locations in Auckland after leaving MIQ.

Last night, the Ministry of Health announced that a person infected with the omicron variant of Covid-19 had been “briefly active in the community” on December 26 and 27 while awaiting results of their day nine test. The person, who arrived in the country on December 16 and was fully vaccinated, had completed seven days in a managed isolation facility, during which time they’d returned three negative tests, and was spending the final three days of the requisite 10-day period in self-isolation, said the ministry. Arrivals are supposed to self-isolate until the results of the day nine test are back.

On December 26 and 27, the case visited a number of downtown Auckland locations including Soul Bar, the Commercial Bay precinct, Partridge Jewellers and the Impala nightclub. A positive test result was returned on December 27, and the case moved to MIQ that day. A number of close contacts have been identified and are isolating, with health authorities working to identify and contact others, said the ministry. 

Case confirmed as British DJ 

The case was named by media last night as British DJ Dimension, AKA Robert Etheridge, who is in the country for the Rhythm & Alps festival in Wānaka. On Wednesday night, an announcement on the festival’s Facebook page said Dimension and another act scheduled to perform, Friction, would no longer be doing so “due to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19”.

Overnight, Etheridge confirmed he was the case in a post on Instagram, saying he was devastated to have tested positive and entered the community “of the understanding I had completed my quarantine”.

 “I want to reiterate my apologies to those who I have inadvertently put at risk as a result of my misunderstandings. I realise the gravity of the situation and I am deeply regretful to those who have been impacted; including members of the public, event organisers and close contacts.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DIMENSION (@dimension)

Isolation and test timing

It’s not clear whether Etheridge’s test was carried out on December 24, day nine of the isolation period, and the result not received until December 27, or if the test was done later. Etheridge’s social media posts indicate he was isolating at a rental property on Waiheke Island. Photos posted on December 25 that Etheridge removed yesterday after receiving “many comments of hate and abuse” were taken “at a private address which was approved by the Department of Health prior to my arrival”, he said in the Instagram post. 

The ministry said “no exposure events have been identified from the individual’s movements between MIQ and the accommodation they stayed in while completing their isolation period”.

From November 14, MIQ stays were shortened from 14 days to seven, followed by isolation at home until the result of a day nine test is received. But on December 21, as part of a “suite of precautionary measures” aimed at keeping omicron out of the community, Hipkins announced that arrivals would now have to spend the full 10 days in a managed isolation facility. “Bringing those final three days back into MIQ reduces the risk of the virus entering the community,” he said at the time. Etheridge arrived four days before the announcement, on December 16. 

Locations of interest

Five locations of interest have been identified so far, all in downtown Auckland on the afternoon/evening of December 26 and early hours of December 27: Sunny Town in the Harbour Eats food court of the Commercial Bay precinct from 2.30pm-3.30pm, Partridge Jewellers on Queen Street from 3.30pm-6pm, Ahi restaurant at Commercial Bay from 6.30pm-8pm, Soul Bar at the Viaduct from 9.30pm-11pm, and Impala nightclub on Shortland Street from 11pm to 3am. 

Anyone who was at Impala during that period is considered a close contact and should self-isolate and test immediately, and contact Healthline or register their visit online. Contacts at the other locations are considered casual and should monitor for symptoms.

Auckland due to move to orange at midnight

Auckland is set to move to the orange traffic light setting at midnight tonight, along with a number of other North Island regions, meaning New Year’s Eve parties can go ahead without capacity limits, as long as vaccine passes are used. At red, there is a limit of 100 people when vaccine passes are used. While Hipkins is due to brief media at 11, as of last night there were no changes to the planned move to orange, said a government spokesperson.