MIQ worker tests positive for Omicron

The MIQ worker is deemed to have been infectious from Monday January 10. Photo: File.

Auckland health officials are working quickly to stop Omicron breaking out into the community following an MIQ worker testing positive for the variant.

The positive case reported on Saturday in an Auckland MIQ worker has now been linked to the border through whole genome sequencing. This has provided confirmation that the worker has the Omicron variant.

“In response, we are taking a conservative approach, and our objective is to stamp out and contain any onward transmission,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

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

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.

At this stage, exposure events have been 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”.

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 case and one household contact are now isolating in a MIQ facility. The remaining close contacts are isolating at locations in Auckland and Taupō.

On Friday afternoon, the worker returned a positive result for a routine surveillance test taken on Wednesday afternoon.

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

“Public Health staff thank them for their assistance,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

Auckland health officials are working at pace to identify any further contacts and exposure events.

Whole genome sequencing has linked the MIQ worker to two returnees within the facility who travelled from India who arrived on January 8 and tested positive two days later.

The MIQ worker is deemed to have been infectious from Monday January 10.

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.

"New Zealand’s vaccine rollout remains our key defence against all variants of COVID-19, including Omicron. With 93 per cent of the eligible population now double-dosed, and the booster programme underway, New Zealanders are well protected," says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

"We want vaccinations to continue to increase 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 four months since their last vaccine dose."

On Monday, the vaccine will be available for 5 to 11-year-olds to get protected against COVID-19. We encourage all parents with children in this age group to take them to get vaccinated. A full list of vaccination centres can be found on the Healthpoint website.

The Ministry asks anyone who lives in Auckland with symptoms – no matter how mild – to get a test, even if you’re vaccinated and to please stay at home until you return a negative test result.

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