Relief for the station; the town hall closes its offices

Queenstown was able to breathe a small sigh of relief yesterday after no further places of interest were notified in relation to a suspected case of Omicron in the town.

St Moritz Hotel and Queenstown Airport remain the only places of concern, and the flight the visitor departed from last Saturday afternoon has yet to be declared as a place of interest.

However, as a reminder that the South is not immune to the imminent threat of Covid-19, Environment Southland closed all of its offices yesterday after it was discovered that a contact of a Covid-positive case had met with members staff over the past two days.

Managing director Rob Phillips said Environment Southland was not a place of interest and staff had not been asked to self-isolate at this stage.

“We now have well-integrated systems that allow our staff to set up and work from home very quickly so that our services can continue.

“We really appreciate that the visitor to our office was very open with us about their contact and that allowed us to take precautionary measures.”

Southern District Health Board medical officer Susan Jack said seven people are now in isolation in Otago and Southland, up from 15 earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the SDHB confirmed an announcement earlier this week that masks would now be compulsory for hospital staff, patients and visitors aged over 8, and stressed that these must be masks surgical.

“Medical masks are much more effective in protecting people against Covid-19 than cloth masks or cloth face coverings,” Dr Jack said.

“It’s something we can all do to help protect our vulnerable patients and our communities.”

The red light setting meant the DHB changed several procedures for dealing with the public, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when dealing with the public and when in the community, a said Dr. Jack.

“Seeing DHB staff in PPE gear enter a home does not mean that household is isolated. ”

The red light setting, which has stopped a host of major events in their tracks, claimed another high-profile festival yesterday after the University of Otago Students’ Association canceled most of its annual orientation.

Nationally, 105 cases of community transmission of Covid-19 were announced yesterday by the Ministry of Health, including 15 Omicron cases.

A wide range of new places of interest were revealed, including Indian temples in Auckland and Hamilton, a polo event in Mt Maunganui, a social football match in Palmerston North and several air flights.

More than 5,800 people nationwide are being managed as potential contacts, 74% of whom have had at least one Covid-19 test.

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