26 January 2022
The following is from the Ministry of Health website.
Omicron, also known as the B.1.1.529 strain, was first identified in mid-November 2021. The World Health Organization rapidly classified Omicron as a variant of concern due to the large number of mutations it contains, with at least 30 located in the spike protein.
The Omicron variant has spread worldwide rapidly and is now the major variant in many countries. Omicron is much more transmissible than previous variants of the COVID-19 virus, including Delta. However, as the Omicron variant is so new, more data is needed to understand how Omicron has spread so rapidly across the world.
It is important to remember that Omicron was only declared a Variant of Concern at the end of November 2021. The rapid emergence of Omicron will require yet another change in the way New Zealand manages COVID-19.
New Zealand has a very effective system in place for identifying new variants. The ongoing emergence of new variants such as Omicron underline why it is so important that we continue to perform whole genome sequencing on cases from overseas and those not linked to a cluster in New Zealand.
What New Zealanders can do now:
- If you are eligible to have your COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, please make a booking here. 5–11 year olds are also now able to receive the pediatric Pfizer vaccine.
- Prepare a kit for your home and make a plan if you or someone in your household becomes a positive COVID-19 case. Prepare and stay safe.
- Continue to follow good hygiene practices and wherever you go.
It will also be important to continue to protect ourselves and our whānau and stop the transmission of the disease by following health habits such as:
- Keep indoor rooms well ventilated (eg, by opening windows and doors) where possible.
- Wearing masks and face coverings is one way of keeping yourself safe and protecting others from COVID-19, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Wear masks in confined or crowded environments.
- Physical distancing of 2m where possible.
- If you feel unwell or show any symptoms, stay home. Call Healthline and get a COVID-19 test.