20 Jan 2022

Covid-19 update on 20 January: 39 new community cases and one possible Omicron case

7:36 pm on 20 January 2022

Testing has found 39 new community cases of Covid-19 and one new possible Omicron case in Palmerston North.

Covid-19 coronavirus particles, illustration.

Photo: AFP

There are also 46 cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, the Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon.

Earlier today, the MidCentral District Health Board announced its first Covid-19 case since November.

In this afternoon's statement, the ministry said that case was a possible Omicron case, in Palmerston North.

"This case was in a MIQ facility in Christchurch and tested negative on day nine, before being released on 16 January (Sunday), after returning a negative test result on five occasions throughout their stay.

"The case became symptomatic yesterday and got tested. They returned a positive Covid-19 test result yesterday evening."

The case is considered to have been infectious from 17 January and there were multiple exposure events - including an early childcare centre, the ministry said.

"Initial locations of interest associated with the individual have been published this morning and more will be added as they are identified.

"The case, who has had two doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is now isolating at home with their family."

Urgent genome sequencing is underway.

Auckland Omicron update

The three confirmed Omicron cases in Auckland are an MIQ border worker and their household contact, and a worker at Auckland Airport.

"At this stage, one additional contact associated with these cases has tested positive for Covid-19. This case is a household contact of the MIQ worker and was already isolating when they tested positive. Whole genome sequencing is underway, but the assumption is this case has the Omicron variant," the ministry said.

"The highest priority for local Public Health staff relates to contacts who were at the Ara-Tai Café Half Moon Bay at the same time as the worker at Auckland Airport. This location of interest is high risk."

Hawke's Bay cases

Meanwhile, a further two cases of Covid-19 have been found in Hawke's Bay.

That brings the total number of cases in the region to six.

One case is linked to the Hastings cluster, taking that cluster to five, while the other case is believed to have contracted Covid-19 out of the region.

Cases in the Hastings cluster have been confirmed as the Delta strain.

The DHB says it's crucial anyone with cold or flu symptoms, no matter how mild, got tested for Covid-19, even if they were vaccinated.

Rotorua bars named as high-risk locations

Today 14 cases were reported in Rotorua, with five still not linked to any other cases.

All cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

Meanwhile, authorities have identified three central bars as 'close contact' locations of interest..

The Ministry of Health listed the affected locations and times as follows:

  • Vault Bar (1122 Hinemoa St) Thursday 13 January 5.40 pm - Friday 14 January 12.45 am
  • Kasper's Sports Bar (1302 Tutanekai Street) Tuesday 18 January 7.30 pm - 8.30 pm
  • Rotorua Citizens Club (1146 Rangiuru Street) Saturday 15 January 9.00 am - 4.00 pm

The ministry advises people who there at those times to self-isolate, test immediately and test again on day five after exposure at the location of interest.

What happened earlier?

Yesterday there were 24 new community cases of Covid-19 for the country, 56 cases detected at the border and 24 people in hospital with the virus.

It was confirmed that an Auckland Airport worker who tested positive has the Omicron variant, and a household contact of the MIQ worker who tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday has also tested positive for the Omicron variant.

New locations of interest included Ara-Tai Cafe at Half Moon Bay on 18 January and three Auckland night clubs, and Ministry staff were still trying to make contact with four people who took buses with a person believed to be infectious.

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