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Source: Covid-19 New Zealand Government Announcements

Omicron variant

Health officials continue to assess the latest international information on the new B.1.1529 variant, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron.

As a precaution, and based on advice from the Director-General of Health, the Government yesterday added nine countries in southern Africa to the very high risk countries list, placing additional restrictions on travel into New Zealand.

Knowledge about this emerging variant is in its infancy and we are closely watching and monitoring evidence and countries’ responses.

Vaccine producing companies will now start assessing any impact the strain will have on vaccine efficacy. However, our advice to public remains that vaccines are the number one protection against COVID-19 – including against the Delta variant responsible for our current outbreak.

There is no change to the advice on booster vaccines, which is for people over-18 to get their booster dose at least six months after their second dose. Anyone who is due a booster shot, which become available to a wider group of people from Monday, is encouraged to book using BookMyVaccine.

There’s no need to rush to get the booster. The science shows fully vaccinated people remain really well protected from infection, and from being seriously ill if they do get COVID-19. There is plenty of existing stock of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand now and on order for everyone who needs a booster shot over coming months.

We will advise on any potential impacts for New Zealand, noting that we remain in a good position to minimise the impact of any new variants with isolation and routine testing of international arrivals.