A case of Covid-19 detected in Palmerston North has been confirmed to be the Omicron variant, the Ministry of Health says.

Coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19  under microscope. Danger virus background. 3d rendering.       Photo: 123rf.com


In total, there are 23 Covid-19 cases in the community today and 40 infections at the border.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said “Whole genome sequencing has confirmed that the case who tested positive in Palmerston North has the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

“The case became symptomatic on Wednesday and returned a positive COVID-19 test result on Wednesday evening, with WGS confirmed Thursday evening.

“Whole genome sequencing has identified similarities to border cases identified in Auckland, but no direct links. It has not identified any links to cases in the Christchurch MIQ facility, suggesting that the source of infection is offshore – either in the country they travelled from or during travel to New Zealand – rather than transmission in the Christchurch MIQ facility where they stayed.”

The case is considered to be infectious from Monday 17 January.

All locations of interest associated with the case are considered to be high risk.

Yesterday there were 39 community cases of Covid-19 and 46 cases in MIQ.

The Health Ministry also announced a possible Omicron case in Palmerston North yesterday. The double vaccinated case was released from a Christchurch MIQ facility after returning a negative Covid-19 test on five occasions throughout their stay, but became symptomatic and tested positive for Covid-19 in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced that if transmission of the Omicron variant was detected in the community, all of New Zealand would move to the red traffic light setting within 24 to 48 hours.

Ardern also announced that Te Tai Tokerau would move to the orange light setting overnight.