Auckland MIQ worker confirmed as Omicron case; 'high-risk' locations of interest

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Ministry of Health says they are taking a "conservative approach" after confirming Sunday afternoon that an Auckland MIQ worker has the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Whole genome sequencing provided the confirmation of Omicron and the necessary connection to the border, linking the MIQ worker to two returnees within the facility that travelled from India who arrived on 8 January and tested positive two days later, the ministry says.

The worker was infectious from Monday, 10 January.  

The ministry says the worker and one household contact are now isolating in a MIQ facility, and the remaining close contacts - almost 50 in number - are isolating at locations in Auckland and Taupō.

"In response, we are taking a conservative approach, and our objective is to stamp out and contain any onward transmission."

The ministry says the worker's household contacts have so far returned negative tests.

"All of the case’s seven household contacts identified have already been contacted, isolated and tested, and returned a negative result."

The ministry says almost 40 close contacts were on two bus trips with the worker.

"A further 48 close contacts are in the process of being contacted, asked to isolate and get tested. Fifteen of these contacts have already returned a negative test result, including five contacts in Taupō.

"Among the close contacts, are 39 people who were on two bus trips with the case. The MIQ worker on the bus trips was wearing their mask throughout both journeys."

There are a number of "high-risk locations of interest", the ministry says, with exposure events at this stage identified at the MIQ facility, on bus travel to work and "a small number of shops". 

"A number of high-risk locations of interest linked to the case have been published, and we ask anyone who was at any of these locations at the specified time to get tested immediately, self-isolate and then get a further test on day 5 after exposure at the location of interest and then continue to follow any further advice on isolation and testing that will be provided to you by public health officials.

The locations include:

  • Rail Replacement Bus - Southern Line, Britomart to Takanini, Thursday 13 January 4:50 pm - 6:20 pm
  • Rail Replacement Bus - Eastern Line - Panmure to Britomart, Friday 14 January 7:15 am - 7:40 am
  • The Warehouse, 30 Walters Road, Takanini, Wednesday 12 January 6:39 pm - 7:15 pm.
  • New World Metro, 125 Queen St, Auckland CBD, Thursday 13 January 12.11pm - 12.30pm and Friday 14 January 12.21pm - 12.30 pm.
  • Morrin Road Bakehouse, 66A Morrin Road, Saint Johns, Friday 14 January 6:30 am - 7:00 am and Monday 10 January 7:10 am - 7:30 am
  • Gateway Wholesale Meats, 108 Great South Road, Tuesday 11 January 3:42 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Shosha Takanini, 108 Great South Road, Takanini, Monday 10 January 6:03 pm - 6:15 pm

These locations of interest will be highlighted on the ministry’s website as linked to the Omicron positive case.

The ministry says an investigation is underway to establish how transmission of the variant occurred.

"Auckland Regional Public Health are working with MIQ staff to look for any possible routes of transmission between the returnees and the MIQ worker. MIQ staff at this facility are in the process of having an additional test arranged."

The worker is fully vaccinated, up to date with regular surveillance testing and has cooperated fully with health authorities in helping manage any risks, the ministry says.

Today's new cases

There are 25 new community cases, along with 43 cases at the border today.

Auckland, with 15 cases, has the majority of new community cases, while Bay of Plenty has three and Waikato and Lakes both have two. Northland, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington are all reporting only one case.

The Northland case is in Whangārei, and one of the two new Waikato cases is in Hamilton with the other one in Ngāruawāhia.

The three Bay of Plenty cases are all in the western part of the region and the two Lakes cases are both in Rotorua.

The Wellington case is in Wellington City.

The ministry did not specify where in Hawke's Bay today's new case is located, although it says the case was first announced yesterday and is being included in today's count. The ministry says there is a second case that it is aware of in Hawke's Bay today that will be counted in Monday's figures as it was reported after the daily cut-off.