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Queenstown locations linked to suspected cases of Omicron

Two sites of interest in Queenstown have been linked to suspected cases of Omicron.

Locations are Queenstown Airport on Saturday 22nd January from 2.15pm to 3pm.

The second is the Hotel St Moritz, also on Saturday January 22, from 12:00 (midnight) to 12:00.

People who were in either location during the affected times are urged to self-monitor for Covid symptoms for 10 days after being exposed and if symptoms start to appear, get tested and stay home until a negative test result comes back.

General manager of the St Moritz Queenstown hotel, Jo Finnigan, said the Covid-positive guest was only considered contagious on the last day of their stay, Saturday January 22, from 12 noon to noon.

“Very fortunately, this guest didn’t do anything on the 22nd, except walk down the hall, take the elevator and check out,” Ms Finnigan said.

“Our best understanding of their movements was that it was a window of about 15 minutes.”

Those at the hotel at the time were considered casual contacts.

”The advice is that we monitor our symptoms and get tested if we have symptoms.

”We are a fully vaccinated Fort Knox here, and so we all wear masks, and of course we have very strict cleaning and sanitation protocols.

Although the potential exposure was brief, “we’re all very aware of how it might play out, so it’s a good reminder.”

In response to its announcement as a place of interest, Queenstown Airport issued the following statement:

“Our understanding is that the passenger was departing Queenstown. The Department of Health advised that anyone at the airport between 2.15pm and 3pm on Saturday January 22 is considered a casual contact and should self-monitor for symptoms.

“Since the emergence of Covid-19, we have followed strict health and safety protocols, including increased cleaning of high-touch and high-traffic areas, wearing of masks, scanning and RAT monitoring testing regular staff Queenstown Airport also has a vaccination policy in place.

“Given the likelihood that Covid-19 will be in the community at any given time, we are well prepared and this is a good reminder to ensure everyone is following Ministry of Health guidelines, including wearing mask, scanning in the terminal as well as all businesses inside the terminal, and if you’re not feeling well, stay home.”

Get a test ‘very quickly’: Mayor

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult says he is “not surprised” that new landmarks have been announced in Queenstown.

Mr Boult said he was aware of some concerns about Omicron’s presence in the district, but said there was nothing new to report since the landmarks were announced.

“I told people not to pay attention to rumours, wait until you hear them officially.”

He said the case was a visitor from Auckland.

“Sooner or later, we will have people here who find themselves in our community with Omicron,” Mr. Boult said.

“At this point DHB advises me that these are only places of interest and it is clear that they are monitoring.”

He said he was aware that the number of tests at the station was “reasonably low” and encouraged anyone near these places of interest and showing “signs of illness” to get tested “very quickly” and isolate themselves.

“The way to master this thing is to make sure you have those tests very quickly.”

He said Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming told him he would be contacted as soon as there was a community case in Queenstown to report.

In the meantime, Mr Boult urged people to practice good hygiene, wear a good mask “some cloth masks aren’t particularly effective” and use the Covid tracer app “constantly”.

Southern District Health Board Medical Officer Dr Susan Jack said the new locations in Queenstown underscored the need for Southerners to remain vigilant.

“Follow public health advice. When you leave your home, wear a mask, scan QR codes, practice good hand hygiene and practice social distancing.

“If you were at one of the places of interest on the date and time listed and are symptomatic, please get tested and stay home until you receive a negative test result. “

To arrange a test, please call your GP or the WellSouth call center on 0800 VIRUS19 (0800 847 8719).

The SDHB yesterday encouraged all eligible people to get their boosters now.

Dr Jack said it took about two weeks for the body to protect itself against Covid-19 after vaccination.

About 65% of eligible people in the district had received their boosters, she said.

Twenty-three new community cases of Covid-19 were reported by the Department of Health yesterday, with 56 cases of Omicron in the community now, 21 more than Tuesday.

Shortly after Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall unveiled the spread of Omicron’s government’s three-phase public health response, laboratory technicians, on whose shoulders the burden of the increase in Covid tests will fall, remained skeptical.

The president of the New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Terry Taylor, from Dunedin, said he was more worried that testing labs would ever be overwhelmed.

Dr Verrall said all three phases of the plan would fit.

The first phase was similar to now with contact tracing, isolation and asking anyone who had symptoms to be tested.