Fear of Covid 19 Omicron: Government to Speak Up, Touring DJ Targeted by “Hate and Abuse”

Watch Live: Chris Hipkins is joined by Department of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town and pediatrician Dr Danny de Lore as they take stock of the Omicron community case. Video / Mark Mitchell

As Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins prepares to answer questions about Omicron’s arrival in the community – and how the self-isolation rules were not followed – the UK touring DJ who is positive revealed he had been the target of “hate and abuse”.

And a leading New Zealand expert on Covid-19 also expressed fears that the DJ took the variant during his first stay at MIQ.

The new, highly contagious variant of Covid-19 had previously only been detected in New Zealand via testing in people at MIQ; health ministry heads confirmed yesterday afternoon that there had been 71 cases detected among people in managed isolation.

But last night it was revealed that a positive person for Omicron – who later turned out to be UK DJ Dimension, real name Robert Etheridge – has been active in the Auckland community for two days.

The DJ – who had traveled to New Zealand to perform at the Rhythm & Alps festival – spent seven days at MIQ, before being moved to an approved seaside location for MIQ.

DJ Dimesnion aka Robert Etheridge removed images from Instagram that showed him at a beach in Waiheke on Christmas Day.
DJ Dimesnion aka Robert Etheridge removed images from Instagram that showed him at a beach in Waiheke on Christmas Day.

He ended his stay and spent two days in the community – including bars and restaurants in Auckland – before getting his ninth day Covid test results; one that would come back as positive.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor Rod Jackson said New Zealanders have every right to be concerned about the Omicron case in the community.

He said that given how unusual it was for a day nine test to detect Covid-19, the “best case scenario” was that the test had detected a “historic infection” and that it currently did not of Covid.

But he added: “The most likely and possible scenario is that he got it at MIQ, which is worrying.”

Jackson said it was essential that New Zealand could prevent the community spread of Omicron for as long as possible.

He hoped that the fear created by the Etheridge affair would be a “wake-up call” for the Kiwis who have so far refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“With Delta, we were pretty sure everyone was going to get Delta and it could have taken up to a year,” Jackson said. “With Omicron, everyone is going to get Omicron if they are not vaccinated and it will happen quickly … which means there is no time to delay.”

Hipkins will host a press conference in Wellington at 11 a.m., where he will be asked about the details of the case and the reaction of health officials.

The press conference also comes nearly 1 p.m. before Auckland was set to switch to the amber setting of the government’s Covid traffic light system.

Hipkins will be asked how the Omicron case might impact this decision.

Last week he confirmed that if the Omicron community spreads, areas will go to red light.

“All the evidence so far indicates that Omicron is the most transmissible variant of Covid-19 to date and public health advice suggests that soon, every case that enters MIQ will be Omicron,” Hipkins told the ‘era.

Hipkins had said the government’s plan was to prepare by ramping up boosters and strengthening border defenses to keep Omicron out of the community for as long as possible.

“But we need to do more. Parts of the world are stranded again and experiencing major disruption, and with these additional measures, we aim to keep Omicron at bay to ensure New Zealanders get the break they deserve and that businesses can stay open. “

As Hipkins prepared to face the media, Etheridge again posted on social media his regrets.

While still in seclusion, he posted pictures of himself drinking on a beach, sending Christmas greetings from New Zealand and thanking for an amazing year in which his album reached the top of the charts British dance.

It was a message that sparked angry reactions from enraged New Zealanders that he risked spreading the new, highly transmissible variant of Covid-19 through the community through his actions in leaving self-isolation. before receiving the final test result.

Etheridge wrote: “For clarity, photos uploaded to social media on December 25 were taken at a private address approved by the Department of Health prior to my arrival.

“As a result of my name being revealed to the media, I received many hateful and abusive comments, so I felt the need to delete the post at that time.”

Etheridge also apologized again for his actions, which he said were a genuine mistake.

“I want to reiterate my apologies to those I have inadvertently endangered because of my misunderstandings,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I realize the gravity of the situation and deeply regret those affected, including members of the public, event planners and close contacts.”

Etheridge posted online Wednesday night that during his stay at MIQ and then in home isolation, he had received three negative tests “and showed no symptoms.”

After completing a 10-day isolation period, he “entered the community” believing that he did not have to wait for his final test result.

“Much to my shock and concern, I unexpectedly received a positive test on the twelfth day, two days after my period of isolation ended.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health had previously confirmed to the Herald that the infected person – whom she did not name – did not wait for a negative test result before leaving the place where she was self-employed. isolated.

Etheridge, a UK-based electronic music artist, was scheduled to perform at Rhythm & Alps near Wānaka before abruptly retiring shortly before taking the stage.

Before heading south, he spent several hours in the community on Boxing Day – visiting a number of Auckland hot spots including a nightclub and bar, restaurants and a jewelry store.

The recent arrival from the UK is the first person infected with Omicron who has been active in the community in New Zealand.

Etheridge arrived in New Zealand on December 16, from the UK via Doha. The Health Department said it returned three negative tests and let MIQ self-isolate at home for three days on December 23.

He took his ninth-day Covid test on Christmas Day, December 25, but rather than wait to collect his test result before leaving self-isolation, he went out shopping and clubbing at Auckland.

Among the places he visited while infected were Impala nightclub in central Auckland, as well as Soul Bar.

Earlier Boxing Day, he spent about four hours in the Bay’s shopping district – visiting a jewelry store and two restaurants – between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and again between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Etheridge received his positive test result on December 27.

Etheridge is one of many who have been granted special visas to enter New Zealand despite the current border closures.

To date, around 81 international musical artists have secured a place at MIQ to come and perform in New Zealand.

To get an exception at the border, they must apply for a critical use visitor visa.

Immigration New Zealand says the promoter must show how the musical artist will bring significant economic benefits to the country if he comes here.

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