Isolation only for confirmed cases and household contacts

New Zealand enters the third and final phase of Omicron response

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield (RNZ Photo by Vinay Ranchhod)

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Wellington, February 24, 2022

The new phase of response begins at 11.59 pm tonight (24 February).

Only confirmed cases and their household contacts are required to isolate.

RATs will become the primary form of testing.

New Zealand is moving to greater self-management for contact notification.

There are 6137 new cases in the community (3526 identified through PCR, 2611 via RAT)

95% of eligible people in New Zealand have had two vaccine doses

1385 paediatric first doses were administered yesterday.

24,632 booster doses were administered in New Zealand.

Next stage to manage Omicron peak

New phase of response begins at 11:59 pm tonight (24 February).

These changes will ease some of the pressure on our testing and contact tracing services over the next 3-6 weeks while helping to ensure critical services and supply chains remain operational and our economy keeps moving.

Because so many people are vaccinated and Omicron is less severe, New Zealand can have a more devolved response and much greater self-management.

Care and support will continue to be there for those who need it most, as it always has been.

Omicron Response: Isolation

Only confirmed cases and their household contacts are required to isolate.

All other contacts are now asked to monitor symptoms but do not have to isolate.

Confirmed cases and household contacts should isolate for 10 days but can now self-release after day 10, provided that they have no new or worsening symptoms and meet any testing requirements.

The critical worker exemption scheme announced this month will enable eligible household contacts to return to work during their isolation periods by returning a daily negative RAT.

Omicron Response: Testing

RATs will become the primary form of testing.

Millions of RATs have been distributed around the country to testing sites, GPs, pharmacies and workplaces.

People can now access a RAT from hundreds of locations around the country.  Locations with RATs available can be found on the Health Point website (www.healthpoint.co.nz)

PCR testing will be reserved for people where it is clinically indicated they need it.  A PCR test will no longer be required to verify a positive RAT result.

Approved RATs will soon be able to be sold to the public through retail outlets.  This will provide choice and access for the general public and small businesses.

Omicron Response: Contact Tracing

New Zealand is moving to greater self-management for contact notification.

This will include a new self-investigation tool to support people with Covid-19 to self-notify contacts.  Because only household contacts are required to isolate, the tool will assist in tracking high-risk exposure events or locations.

Contact tracing teams will now focus on identifying and tracking those who have visited high-risk locations, such as hospitals or aged care facilities. There will be continued support for those members of our community who are not digitally set up.

Health Update: Cases and Testing

There are currently 205 people in hospitals across New Zealand, two of which are in high dependency or intensive care units.

The Ministry of Health reports the death of a patient with Covid-19 at Middlemore Hospital.

There are 6137 new cases in the community (3526 identified through PCR, 2611 via RAT), and eight new cases identified at the border.

33,225 PRC tests were processed nationwide in the last 24 hours.

Number of RAT stock available in New Zealand 6,300,000.

Booster Programme and Vaccination Update

Yesterday, 24,632 booster doses were administered in New Zealand.

The total number of people who have received boosters, including those vaccinated overseas – is 2,249,809 (68.2% of those eligible).

Increasing numbers of cases and hospitalisations are another reminder that vaccination is our best defence against the virus.

There is growing evidence that three doses of Pfizer are protective against infection and symptomatic infection for Omicron.

Ministry of Health strongly encourages people to get a booster dose if it has been more than three months since their second dose.

95% of eligible people in New Zealand have had two vaccine doses.

Vaccines administered in New Zealand yesterday; 536 first doses, 1146 second doses, 136 third primary doses.

Vaccines administered in New Zealand to date: 4,017,924 first doses, 3,955,733 second doses, 32,938 third primary doses.

People vaccinated (total, from all ethnicities, including those vaccinated overseas, age 12+). 4,060,799 first dose (96.5%), 3,997,213 second dose (95%).

1385 paediatric first doses and 150 paediatric second doses were administered yesterday.

To date, 232,359 paediatric first doses and 2239 paediatric second doses have been administered in New Zealand.

Source: Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Wellington

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