Covid in district: ‘we do need to take it seriously’

Do not delay. . . Gore Hospital chief executive Karl Metzler and Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks advise people to telephone their GP as soon as possible to arrange an appointment for a Covid-19 test if they suspect they have been in the company of someone who has Covid-19 or with a close con tact of someone who has the disease. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

People should stay calm now the Covid-19 variant Omicron is in the district, Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks says.

As of 1pm on Monday, two people in Gore had tested positive for the virus.

Yesterday a Gore Main School class was self-isolating after a pupil tested positive at the weekend and Gore Preschool was closed after a visitor later tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Hicks said there was no need to panic now Omicron was here.

“However, we do need to take it seriously … [and] do all the things we should have been doing for the last year or so – social distancing, wearing our masks and keeping hands sanitised.”

It was only a matter of time before the virus arrived.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have got to this point and manage to dodge it.”

Gore Hospital chief executive Karl Metzler said New Zealanders had had “12 months of dress rehearsal” to prepare for the arrival of the virus.

“We now have one of the most vaccinated populations in the developed world and we should be really proud of that.

“If any nation is prepared we are.”

In the Gore district, 91.7 % of people over 12 years of age are fully vaccinated.

If people suspected they had been nearby someone who had Omicron or a close contact of someone with the virus they should get in touch with their GP, Mr Hicks said.

“We should make every effort to be tested as soon as possible.”

Being vaccinated was still the best protection against the virus, he said.

People could choose to wear N95 masks, although they cost more than surgical masks, Mr Metzler said.

“I think the surgical masks are safe and will suffice.”

At 11.59pm last night, New Zealand moved into Phase 2 of the Omicron response.

This was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday after 981 new daily cases were recorded.

The country will stay in Phase 2 as long as daily cases remain between 1000 and 5000 cases.

The move to Phase 2 means the self-isolation period for cases reduces from 14 days to 10 days, and for close contacts from 10 days to seven.

The period of self-isolation also applies to household members.

Ms Ardern advised people to develop a self-isolation plan, including identifying a buddy who could drop off supplies.

Phase 2 also means the start of the test-to-return-to-work scheme.

This will allow critical workers to return to work if they return negative daily rapid antigen tests (Rats).

There has been no change to the Red traffic light setting, and schools and businesses remain open.