Omicron has breached New Zealand’s borders and began spreading, Jacinda Ardern has mentioned, which means the whole nation will likely be positioned on the best stage of restrictions.
The prime minister on Sunday mentioned the nation would attempt to gradual the spread of Omicron however it was anticipated New Zealand would attain 1,000 cases a day within the coming weeks and thousands a day after that. New Zealand has not beforehand reported that stage of an infection.
“I do know listening to these types of case numbers will sound deeply regarding for individuals to listen to,” Ardern mentioned. “We’ll do every thing that we will to gradual the spread and cut back the quantity of cases we expertise as a nation.”
The prime minister mentioned 9 cases of Omicron had been detected amongst a household who traveled to Auckland for a marriage ceremony and different occasions. Officers had not but been in a position to join the outbreak to an “index case” on the border.
“Which means Omicron is now circulating in Auckland and presumably the Nelson Marlborough area, if not elsewhere,” Ardern mentioned.
Preliminary estimates recommend over 100 individuals have been at occasions attended by the household. A flight attendant on their flight has additionally examined optimistic and flown on a number of flights since.
The nation would transfer to a “purple” alert stage at midnight on Sunday, the prime minister mentioned. Underneath purple restrictions, companies and faculties stay open and home journey can proceed, however there are mandates for masks sporting, restrictions on gathering dimension, and vaccine passes are required for entry to most non-essential companies.
Ardern additionally urged New Zealanders to get their booster pictures.
“Omicron is now in additional than 80 nations all over the world – by delaying its arrival right here, we’ve had the time to kick off boosters, vaccinations for youngsters and [to] put together,” she mentioned.
The nation has excessive ranges of vaccination amongst adults: based on the Ministry of Well being, 95% of these aged 12 and over have had at the least one dose of the vaccine, and 93% have had each.
Ardern requested that residents be sort as New Zealand skilled the unprecedented spread of Covid.
“We’re stronger as a crew than we’re as people, and so now I ask that all of us pull collectively once more. Please be sort. I do know not everybody sees this pandemic in the identical means. However for probably the most half we’re motivated by the identical factor, and it’s searching for one another,” she mentioned.
New Zealand had been bracing for Omicron infections to rise because it turned clear that the extremely infectious variant was prone to discover cracks within the nation’s strict border measures.
There had been a number of cases of Omicron amongst staff on the border and in managed isolation and quarantine over the previous week. Sunday’s announcement suggests these border-linked cases have crossed over to the broader community.
On Thursday, Ardern instructed New Zealanders that the variant’s wider emergence was solely a matter of time. “We are going to expertise in New Zealand cases at a stage that we haven’t skilled earlier than. We gained’t cease Omicron, however we will attempt to gradual it down,” she mentioned.