By RNZ.co.nz and republished with permission.
New Zealand will move to red light Covid-19 restrictions at 11.59pm tonight with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield holding an update on the government’s response to the Omicron variant.
The information regarding the red traffic light setting has just been posted on the government website.
The Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed that another Auckland Airport worker has the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Another Auckland Airport worker was confirmed to have Omicron on 20 January.
An Omicron case was also detected in Palmerston North on Friday and the Health Ministry said it was likely the source of the infection was offshore “rather than transmission in the Christchurch MIQ facility where they stayed”.
The government’s approach to Omicron has come under flak with microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles warning the red traffic light setting will not be enough to slow the variant down and South Auckland GP Dr Api Talemaitoga saying the government had dropped the ball on rapid antigen tests.
New Zealand has been preparing for the arrival of Omicron in the community with doctors preparing to support people isolating with the virus at home and supermarkets starting to stockpile to meet demand.
The World Health Organisation has said although the Omicron variant appears to lead to fewer hospitalisations than the Delta variant and to be less severe in the elderly and very young, it should not be considered to be mild.