Martin De Ruyter / Stuff
Vaccination centers in the Nelson area have been busy after the Omicron variant of Covid-19 emerged in the area last week. File photo.
There are two new cases of Covid-19 in the Nelson area on Thursday.
The two cases, household contacts of existing cases in Nelson-Tasman, bring the total number of known Covid-19 cases in the region to 17. Sixteen are confirmed and one is likely, Nelson Marlborough Health said Thursday.
The two new cases have been epidemiologically linked to this month’s Omicron cluster, the health ministry said.
This follows three cases in Nelson-Tasman announced by the Department of Health on Wednesday, one of which was linked to the Motueka Omicron cluster, which was first announced on Friday when nine members of a family group who had traveled to Auckland for a wedding that tested positive.
Wednesday’s other two cases were being treated as Omicron suspects. Health authorities were investigating them to understand any possible links to other Covid-19 exposure cases or events.
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So far, the cases involve three households. All household members are isolated at home.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that the initial cases in Motueka were the highly contagious variant of Omicron, which, along with cases in Auckland, prompted the decision on Monday to move the whole country into the red frame of the frame. Covid-19 protection.
Nelson Marlborough Health’s medical officer of health, Dr Stephen Bridgman, said in the current ‘elimination’ phase, all cases have been confirmed by a positive PCR test, as it was the most accurate method. Rapid antigen testing would become important in the “flatten the curve” and “manage” phases as the number of cases increases and the public health response adjusts accordingly, he said.
“During this elimination phase, we are asking close contacts to self-quarantine for 10 days. This allows for immediate testing and additional testing on days five and eight, or sooner if symptomatic. Casual contacts, people who have been at a place of interest on the specified date and time, are asked to monitor for symptoms,” he said. “If they become symptomatic, they should be tested and self-isolate immediately until a negative test result is received.”
“This ‘elimination’ phase is meant to give us time – time for members of our community to get vaccinated and develop a family plan in the event of a spike in Omicron cases. This will help us reduce the number of people who suffer serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. »
Nelson Marlborough Health is urging anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, to get tested, even if they are vaccinated. The test station at Saxton Field, Stoke is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the test station at Motueka Recreation Center is open daily until February 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, 403 Covid-19 tests were carried out in Nelson and Marlborough, and 2,423 vaccinations in the two regions, including 1,909 boosters and 378 pediatric doses.
Bridgman said changes to face mask requirements announced by the government this week meant people would be better protected and reduce the risk of infection to others.
“We know Omicron is an airborne virus and we can be infectious before we develop symptoms. Make sure your mask is designed to cover the nose and mouth to provide the best protection,” Bridgman said.
The government will require any worker covered by a vaccination mandate to wear a surgical-grade or N95 face mask at their workplace, instead of cloth masks. Ad-hoc masks, such as scarves, will no longer be accepted under the government’s requirement that masks must be worn in places such as cafes and gyms, when a person is not eating or doing no exercise.