There are 60 new COVID-19 Delta infections in New Zealand on Thursday with no more Omicron cases yet from the person who tested positive for the new variant in Auckland.
However a second unrelated Omicron case has been active in the community, an Air NZ crew member. No locations of interest have been identified yet, and seven close contacts have returned negative tests so far.
The first case, revealed to be British DJ Dimension aka Robert Etheridge, arrived in New Zealand from the UK on December 16 and after three negative tests in managed isolation, was allowed to complete his final three days in self-isolation.
But Etheridge didn't wait for his negative day nine test result before leaving self-isolation, as required, and went on to visit multiple Auckland venues including a nightclub.
Etheridge has spoken out about the incident, saying he understood he'd completed his self-isolation requirements.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins wasn't impressed and said it's "really disappointing".
"It's clear that the person didn't follow all of the rules and one of the critical ones here is: you wait until you've had your negative day nine test before you get out and about again."
Meanwhile, a second unrelated Omicron case has also been detected in the community - an Air New Zealand crew member who worked on a flight between Auckland and Sydney. However, no locations of interest have resulted and seven close contacts have returned negative tests - with an eighth pending.
What you need to know:
- An Omicron case of COVID has been active in the community - visiting multiple locations in Auckland's CBD.
- COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says it's "disappointing" the case "clearly didn't follow all of the rules".
- The case is Dimension, a British DJ who was in the country to peform at a New Year's Eve festival.
- He returned negative tests in managed isolation, was allowed to complete his final three days in self-isolation - but didn't wait for his negative day nine test result before entering the community.
- Dimension was isolating on Waiheke Island. The Ministry of Health believes he travelled there by private car and ferry and didn't leave his vehicle while on the boat.
- A second unrelated Omicron case has also been detected in the community - an Air New Zealand crew member who worked on a flight between Auckland and Sydney. However, no locations of interest have resulted and seven close contacts have returned negative tests - with an eighth pending.
- New Zealand's border Omicron cases grew by six on Thursday to 78.
- There are 60 new community Delta infections on Wednesday - 20 in Auckland, 28 in Waikato, eight in Bay of Plenty and one each in Lakes, Tairāwhiti and Canterbury.
- On Thursday, 44 patients were in hospitals with Delta - seven of whom were in ICU.
- Auckland, along with other region in the red traffic light setting apart from Northland, will still move to orange at midnight.
- Click here for all locations of interest.
These live updates have finished.
6:45pm - Professor Rod Jackson, an epidemiologist at Auckland University, has told Newshub that the conditions at Impala nightclub were the "perfect environment" to spread the Omicron variant.
"People are close to each other. If there's lots of noise you have to get even closer. You're shouting at each other. Perfect environment for COVID in general and Omicron in particular," he said.
Despite Dimension facing "hate and abuse" from social media users, people on the street who Newshub spoke to today have been more forgiving towards the English DJ, real name Robert Etheridge.
"If it's not him it'll be somebody else, right? So no, I don't have any judgement," one said.
"What are we going to do? Not let people come from England?" another asked.
5:20pm - The Ministry of Health has updated its locations of interest list with another nine locations, including two in Wellington.
Both the Rydges Pipitea hotel and the Atrium Towers Apartments have been added, along with a "close contact" potential exposure event at a snooker hall in Manukau.
"The good news is that three out of four of their household contacts or people that person was sharing a house with have been tested and tested negative and we're awaiting the other result.
"All of that is suggesting... they were not infectious while they were out, but again we will just have to await more of those results.
"There were three possible ways Dimension, a UK DJ in Aotearoa for the Rhythm and Alps music festival could have been infected, Professor Baker said.
It could be a historic infection, he could have been infected in MIQ or he had a very long incubation period, which isn't usual with Omicron.
3:50pm - Chris Bishop, National's COVID spokesperson told NZ Herald the Government needed to make three urgent policy changes.
He said people should immediately be able to get their booster if its been four months since their second jab, kids' vaccinations should be brought forward and rapid antigen testing should be allowed.
Earlier on Twitter he suggested that at "some point we should reflect on why it is clearly easier to enter NZ as a DJ than a specialist ICU nurse".
He also highlighted there will be drug checking services at Rhythm and Alps this summer but not rapid antigen tests so people can check if they have COVID.
Yesterday Bishop and pharmacists around New Zealand called for the criteria for rapid testing to be dropped so everyone had access.
Currently if you're double-jabbed with no symptoms or connections to a case then you're not eligible for a free PCR nasal swab or a rapid antigen test from a pharmacy. Some people had been quoted up to $300 for a test.
3:30pm - Waikato has now officially vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible population according to the DHB.
That means 13 of the 20 DHBs in Aotearoa have now reached the 90 percent mark with Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Lakes, Taranaki, Whanganui and West Coast still below.
2:50pm - Across the ditch, New South Wales has recorded 12,226 new COVID-19 cases and one death as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
That's the highest number of new cases in a single day for the country.
There are now 746 in hospital in NSW, with 63 people in intensive care.
Just 97,000 swabs were taken in the state yesterday, down from nearly 160,000 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Queensland recorded 2,222 new cases, but the state's Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says he expects the state to have a "very large" number of cases in the near future.
2:25pm - For a reminder of everything you need to know about Omicron and how its symptoms differ from Delta, click here.
2:15pm - Two additional COVID-19 locations of interest have been added, one of which is a "close contact" potential exposure event.
2pm - Earlier, Chris Hipkins said it was still to be determined if British DJ Dimension could face penalties for what he alleges is a "really disappointing" breach of COVID-19 self-isolation rules.
At a press conference on Thursday morning, the COVID-19 Response Minister said it was "clear" the UK drum and bass musician, who was originally staying at the Grand Mercure, appeared to break the rules.
Hipkins cited since-deleted social media posts which showed Dimension, AKA Robert Etheridge, out in public before receiving a negative day nine test result.
"I think it's really disappointing that it's clear that the person [Etheridge] didn't follow all of the rules and one of the critical ones here is you wait until you've had your negative day nine test before you get out and about again. Unfortunately, it appears that's not what the person's done," Hipkins said.
1:45pm - Click here to read the Ministry of Health's full COVID-19 update.
1:40pm - Below is the latest data on COVID-19 testing, which saw a big increase on Wednesday's PCR tally of 8773.
1:36pm - The number of New Zealand patients in hospital with COVID-19 has again fallen. On Thursday, 44 patients were reported - down from 48 on Wednesday.
More data below:
1:27pm - The Ministry of Health says the Canterbury District Health Board has become the third DHB to reach the 95 percent fully vaccinated milestone.
1:25pm - As mentioned, the Ministry of Health has reported 60 community Delta cases. Below is the latest case data:
1:19pm - There are no additional local Omicron infections resulting from the Auckland case. There are six more Omicron cases in managed isolation and 60 new community Delta cases, the Ministry of Health says.
The ministry says an Air new Zealand crew member has tested positive for Omicron and was active in the community - but no locations of interest have resulted. The crew member had eight close contacts - seven of whom have returned negative COVID-19 test results with an eighth pending.
Below is the full Omicron update:
There are an additional six Omicron cases to report among arrivals at the border, taking to total to date to 78.
Yesterday we confirmed New Zealand's first border-related case of Omicron with community exposures.
The case arrived on December 16 and as required under the previous regime for international arrivals, completed a full 10 days in isolation; seven days in a managed isolation facility and three days in self-isolation. They were tested on day nine but did not wait for a negative test result before self-releasing.
Under the previous regime, those leaving a managed isolation facility were able to complete their three days self-isolation at home or in other accommodation. The case completed their self-isolation on Waiheke Island, we understand they travelled by private car and ferry to the island.
While on the ferry they did not leave their vehicle and travelled straight to their accommodation.
All international arrivals are now required to complete their full 10 days of isolation in a managed isolation facility and must return a negative day nine test before they are released. From January 7, all travellers to New Zealand will have to have a PCR test no more than 48 hours before flying, down from the current 72 hours.
Contact tracing has identified a number of known close contacts, all of whom are being contacted and asked to isolate and test. This includes close contacts identified via case interviews and from locations of interest (LOI) including Impala nightclub.
Additionally, push notifications have been sent to any person who scanned into any LOI that the case visited. These notifications include public health advice on testing and isolation.
All identified close contacts are being urgently contacted by contact tracers.
Whole genome sequencing of the other omicron cases at the same managed isolation facility has shown the case is not linked to others who stayed at the same facility. At this stage, there is no evidence of in facility transmission.
A further interview is underway with the case this morning to determine additional locations of interest.
Testing is available on Waiheke today and additional mobile testing will be made available if required.
Anyone who attended the Hidden Lakes Festival and is concerned should ring healthline for further advice. However, only a small number of contacts of this case attended the festival, all of whom had negative tests beforehand.
The public health risk associated with this event has been assessed as low.
At this stage, there are no known contacts or cases associated with Rhythm & Alps festival.
As always, anyone who is symptomatic should stay at home get tested.
We are reporting a second border-related case who has been in the community. The case is an Air New Zealand crew member who worked on a flight between Auckland and Sydney on December 24.
They were tested for COVID-19 in routine surveillance testing on December 27. Whole genome sequencing has confirmed the Omicron variant and has also confirmed the case is linked to three other Omicron cases on the same flight.
The case was immediately transferred to a MIQ facility. The case is fully vaccinated.
Eight close contacts have been identified, seven of whom have returned negative test results.
At this stage, there are no known locations of interest.
We have been doing everything we can to prepare for Omicron and to keep it out of the community since the variant was first identified. This has included undertaking whole genome sequencing on every PCR sample taken from COVID-19 cases detected in international arrivals.
Our vaccine rollout remains our key defence against all variants of COVID-19, including Omicron. With 90 percent of the eligible population now double-dosed, and the booster programme underway, New Zealanders are well protected.
We want vaccinations to continue increasing and ask everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. This is also a timely reminder for people over the age of 18 to get their booster shot if it has been six months since their last vaccine dose.
From January 5, people only need to wait four months since their last dose and will be able to access a booster through walk in clinics. For a full list of vaccination centres see the Healthpoint website.
As always, it is important to stay at home if you are sick, get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and isolate until you return a negative test.
1:07pm - Still waiting on the update from the health ministry. Stand by.
12:45pm - Coming up: The Ministry of Health is due to release the latest COVID-19 case numbers at 1pm, including more details on the Omicron infection. Keep following these updates and we'll post the data when it becomes available.
12:33pm - ACT Party leader David Seymour says the Omicron case should serve as a wake up call.
"Four-month boosters are our strategy for Omicron but there's absolutely no urgency getting them ready, that should change today.
"If you could book a four month booster, there's no bookings at all until January 5. Perhaps there is a need for vaccinators to have a rest, but that doesn't apply to the entire retail sector who're working double time right now.
"At times like this, you have to hope we've dodged yet another bullet. If someone with Omicron is going to go to a night club and not spread it, of course it will be in the luckiest COVID country on earth, New Zealand."
12:20pm - Across the Tasman, a COVID-19 crisis is brewing within the Wellington Phoenix with the club confirming positive cases inside the men's squad.
On Thursday, the club announced two players and a staff member had tested positive for the virus and are isolating away from the rest of the squad.
11:50am - Here's the key points we just heard from COVID Minister Chris Hipkins:
- No genomic link to any other cases in Dimension's MIQ facility
- Three out of four of the people Dimension was isolating with have testing negative, fourth result pending
- Six of Dimension's close contacts performed at Christchurch's Hidden Lakes festival on Tuesday night. They returned negative saliva tests before travelling there on a charter flight from Auckland.
- Forty-seven contacts who were at the same Auckland nightclub as Dimension are isolating and being tested.
- Auckland will still move to the orange traffic light setting at midnight.
- Thursday's COVID data and any further Omicron updates will be provided by the Ministry of Health at 1pm.
11:37am - Hipkins says the "risk could well be contained" and is confident of no widespread Omicron transmission.
He says if other Omicron cases pop up around the country, it doesn't "necessarily" mean a shift to the red traffic light setting.
11:35am - "Follow the rules, we have these rules for a reason," Hipkins says.
11:33am - Hipkins says contact tracers working "very hard" to identify all close contacts.
He says the Impala event was a private one, making it easier to track down contacts.
11:31am - COVID Minister Hipkins says it's "disappointing" Dimension "clearly didn't follow all of the rules".
11:30am - Forty-seven contacts who were at Auckland's Impala nightclub at the same time as Dimension have been asked to isolate, Hipkins says.
11:28am - Hipkins says four neighbours who had drinks with Dimension on a Waiheke Beach have been asked to isolate.
11:27am - COVID Minister Hipkins says he doesn't know whether Dimension had a vaccine pass.
11:25am - Hipkins believes Dimension was staying at the Grand Mercure MIQ facility. There's no genomic link between the Omicron case and other infections in the same hotel - indicating MIQ transmission is unlikely, Hipkins says.
11:24am - The Government isn't considering lockdowns, COVID Minister Hipkins says.
11:23am - In total, six out of 14 close contacts of Dimension have tested negative for COVID-19, with results pending for the remainder, Hipkins says.
11:21am - COVID Minister Hipkins notes three-day self-isolation was brought in before emergence of Omicron variant. People now have to complete 10 days in MIQ with no self-isolation.
11:20am - Hipkins says people leaving MIQ are given "very clear" instructions about self-isolation requirements.
11:17am - COVID Minister Hipkins urges people to be vigilant over summer, says virus "isn't done with us".
11:15am - Hipkins says six close contacts of Dimension performed at the Hidden Lakes Festival in Christchurch on Tuesday night.
They travelled to Christchurch from Auckland on a charter plane and returned negative saliva tests before flying.
11:13am - COVID Minister Hipkins says the people self-isolating with Dimension on Waikeke have tested negative for coronavirus.
11:12am - Hipkins is arriving now.
11:07am - Still waiting on COVID Minister Hipkins.
10:45am - We are not too far away from the press conference due to start at 11am, where COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins will provide an update on the Omicron case in Auckland. Watch it live in the video above.
10:30am - Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says the timing of Auckland moving to the orange traffic light setting at midnight coinciding with the Omicron case is "difficult".
"What I want to know is why this person was in the community when they haven’t received their test result," Dr Wiles told Stuff.
10:15am - Christchurch restaurant The Lotus-Heart was on Wednesday slapped with three infringement notices by WorkSafe New Zealand for failing to comply with COVID-19 requirements.
The vegetarian eatery faces paying a total of $20,000 in fines after failing to display signs saying whether it requires vaccine passes to enter or displaying a QR code in a prominent place.
9:59am - Epidemiologist Rod Jackson says "the most likely and possible scenario" is the Omicron case contracted the virus while in managed isolation.
"If he brought it in, then it is a very long incubation period which would be highly unusual," Dr Jackson told the NZ Herald.
"We have to accept that even if this case didn't bring it in, it is going to come," he said of the Omicron variant.
"I can't see how we can keep Omicron out."
9:44am - A reminder that COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is fronting media 11am to provide the latest on the Omicron case. You'll be able to watch that live in the video above.
9:30am - Multiple COVID-19 locations of interest have been added to the Ministry of Health's list. They are all in Northland.
9:12am - British DJ Dimesion has added more to his statement from earlier:
For clarity, photos uploaded on social media on December 25 were taken at a private address which was approved by the Department of Health prior to my arrival. As a result of my name being revealed in the media, I received many comments of hate and abuse, therefore I felt the need to remove the post in that moment.
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.
9:01am - Epidemiologist Michael Baker is worried private New Year's Eve parties attended by unvaccinated people could fuel the spread of COVID-19.
"Remember, there are still tens of thousands unvaccinated adults in Auckland and hundreds of thousands of children who are not vaccinated," Prof Baker told the NZ Herald. "The Delta variant can still circulate widely in Auckland and the rest of the country.
"We are still a long way from being under control."
8:54am - Below are all the latest COVID-19 locations of interest in Auckland. There were also multiple listed in Christchurch on Wednesday evening - unrelated to the Omicron case.
8:45am - The UK, where the man who tested positive for Omicron in Auckland travelled from, reported 183,037 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a new record and over 53,000 more than the previous highest figure registered just a day earlier.
Britain's rapid case rise has been sparked by the highly transmissible Omicron variant - which now accounts for 90 percent of the UK's community cases.
8:30am - In the past seven-day period, global COVID-19 infections have hit a record high as the Omicron variant races out of control.
Almost 900,000 cases were detected on average each day around the world between December 22 and 28, with many countries posting new all-time highs in the previous 24 hours, including the UK, US and Australia.
Australia registered almost 18,300 new cases on Wednesday, eclipsing Tuesday's previous pandemic high of around 11,300.
8:15am - Concert promoter Brent Eccles says there will be a flow on effect for the entertainment industry as a result of the Omicron case.
"I don't know the gentleman... but the problem is that there were a number of other people that were with him and that's caused a knock-on effect right across the country in terms of entertainment," Eccles told Newstalk ZB.
8am - A reminder that Auckland, as well as other regions in the red traffic light setting apart from Northland, will move to orange at midnight.
7:45am - Siouxsie Wiles, a microbiologist from the University of Auckland, is urging Kiwis to prepare for Omicron.
"It's just really important that we don't think that seven days is okay and that people are still cautious," Dr Wiles told RNZ. "After receiving several negative tests, people could still be incubating the virus and that's what it shows us."
7:30am - The British DJ accused of breaching self-isolation has confirmed he has the Omicron variant of COVID-19 but says he understood he'd completed his self-isolation requirements.
Dimension - AKA Robert Etheridge - says he's "devastated that after 10 days of isolation, I tested positive for Omicron in New Zealand".
Etherirdge says he showed no symptoms throughout his time in quarantine.
"In line with the Government rules, I was in managed isolation for seven days followed by three days of home isolation," he said in a statement posted on Instagram.
"After completing my 10 day isolation, and of the understanding that I had completed my quarantine, I entered the community.
"To my shock and enormous concern, I unexpectedly received a positive test on day 12, two days after my isolation period had ended."
7:15am - The chair of the National Māori Authority says it's time to close the border to non-New Zealand citizens and residents in light of the Omicron case.
"While the country has done a remarkable job in getting the vaccination rates up the reality is we are just not there yet where we allow a risky venture to breach our borders," Matthew Tukaki says. "We are seeing record cases of COVID-19 in Australia and that is our worse fears being realised whereby pressure is now being put onto the health care system.
"The same is happening in countries right across Europe with this new variant."