The whole of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the traffic light system at 11:59pm on Sunday night as the Omicron Covid-19 variant has begun to spread in the community.

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The Prime Minister and Director of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield held a media conference Sunday morning, confirming the cases in Nelson and Tasman are the Omicron variant.

The family had attended a wedding in Auckland, where more than 100 people attended.

A flight attendant picked up the virus on a flight, and there was another case confirmed of a wedding attendee.

“Omicron is now circulating in Auckland and possibly Nelson-Tasman region, if not elsewhere.”

Ardern said Kiwis should plan to be in Red, at least, “for a few weeks, we are right at the start of this outbreak”.

Jacinda Ardern revealed details of the staged approach that would be rolled out in the wake of Omicron.

What you can do under the Red traffic light setting

The first stage remains the ‘stamp-it-out’ approach. This period represents where there are only up to 1000 cases a day. The current contact tracing and isolation measures would remain and rapid antigen testing would begin to be integrated.

The second was named the ‘transition stage’, where there was a “much more” severe risk of Omicron.

The third was where the cases were in the thousands per day. Changes would be made to contact tracing, isolation requirements and changes to contact definition. Ardern said this stage would likely not be for at least a few weeks.

She acknowledged having Covid in the community and the number of cases would be “deeply concerning” for people to hear.

Bloomfield said they did not yet know the source of the community Omicron cases, and they were working to find out the extent of the spread.

Jacinda Ardern indicated this week that should there be community Omicron cases with no link to the border, the country would move to Red in 24 to 48 hours.

Northland had only just moved to Orange, while the rest of the country remained at Orange.

Friday saw a person in Palmerston North, who had returned five negative tests in MIQ, test positive for Omicron. There was also a possible Omicron case in Auckland, an airport employee found via routine surveillance testing with investigations underway. Meanwhile, the numbers of returnees with Covid continue to climb, another 44 at the border.

On Saturday, there was 76 contacts linked to the Palmerston North Omicron case.

Sixty-six returned a negative result and the other test results were to be reported Sunday.

Another Omicron case was confirmed on Saturday, with potential links to returnees in Rotorua and Auckland through whole genome sequencing. This information will assist investigations to determine the source of infection.