Category : News
Author: Amelia Wade

Just as we'd wrapped our heads around the traffic light system, the Government is working on a new response. It's being called the three phases of Omicron.

On Sunday, Wellingtonians were out enjoying the last of life at the orange setting - Omicron getting out means we all go to red.

But it's not just red to get ready for. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government has been planning for three stages for Omicron.

The Omicron offence starts with phase 1 - the focus is stamping Omicron out and will last until we hit more than 1000 cases a day.

Until that point every case will be traced and isolated for 14 days. Their households stay locked down longer - 10 more days after the case has been cleared. So a minimum of 24 days at home. Close contacts - and their households - have to isolate for 10 days.

"Why then you may ask why are we going to such lengths to slow it down? For the same reasons we have always taken COVID seriously. We are a team. And some of our team are immune-compromised," Ardern explained on Sunday.

Once we hit 1000 cases a day then we'll move into phase 2 - the transition. Here the focus will be on the cases who are at severe risk of illness - the vulnerable, the elderly and the unvaccinated.

"The people who will fill our hospitals and ICUs will unfortunately be the unvaccinated," epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says.

And when we hit thousands of daily cases, enter phase 3 - that's when the focus is dampening down. And there'll be changes to who's defined as a close contact and how long they'll have to isolate.


The Government hasn't quite got those details yet - they're coming Wednesday. And the Opposition is critical.

"I think it's got highly confusing for New Zealanders. We've gone from alert level settings to traffic lights to tweaked traffic lights," says National leader Christopher Luxon.

"The so-called stages are just a place-holder for no plan. Isolation requirements, protection of the vulnerable, getting boosters rolled out - none of that's ready," adds ACT leader David Seymour.

The Government doesn't expect to be at phase 3 for a few weeks - but when we do there could be 350,000 people off work and isolating at any one point.

That will have a massive impact on workforces and supply chains so isolation requirements will likely be shortened.

Prof Baker wants boosters brought forward from four months to three - like they have in the UK.

"We'll only be getting the benefit of the booster when the outbreak is very intense in New Zealand," he says.

"At the moment we're keeping it at the four-month gap, it's serving us well but of course we're keeping it under advisement," says Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Because Omicron changes everything.

Article: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2022/01/covid-19-government-s-three-phase-omicron-plan-highly-confusing-for-new-zealanders-opposition.html
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