Omicron Roulette: Self-Isolation Must Go

Things were definitely looking up on the New Zealand Coronavirus front. The Auckland Delta Outbreak was dwindling down to levels last seen in September, and it remains entirely possible (barring accidents) that the thing finally dies out at some point in late January or early February. At which point I suppose the country gets to celebrate Victory over Delta Day.

So long as we could keep Omicron safely locked up in the Quarantine facilities, the next few months therefore offered New Zealand a return to beloved Zero Covid. All hell might break loose in New South Wales, but there’s that convenient 2000 km moat in the way.

And then, about an hour ago, we had some bad news:

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/458777/covid-19-omicron-case-was-active-in-the-community-ministry-of-health-confirms

Ugh. Double ugh.

Self-isolation (three days) following release from Managed Isolation/Quarantine (seven days) is supposed to be taken seriously. As in, you stay isolated at home. You don’t venture out into the CBD of New Zealand’s largest city – aforementioned city just having escaped months of lockdown – and you certainly don’t venture into Nightclubs. I imagine that Aucklanders are equal parts scared and angry right now.

Since it only takes one person to bring in the disease, this also demonstrates that current self-isolation rules cannot be trusted to keep the country safe. The Government needs to end self-isolation immediately, and return to the full fourteen days in MIQ – proper Quarantine facilities are literally the only thing keeping the plague out. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before some muppet (either this one, or the next) infects us all.

Oh, and screw the New Zealand media for relentlessly giving us puerile sob stories about people missing Christmas. Self-isolation always was one of their hobby-horses.

Anyway, the entire country is now sweating over whether this idiot infected anyone with Omicron. There are two possibilities here:

(i) The person caught this disease in MIQ itself. This would explain their previous negative test results, and the fact that no-one else on their flight tested positive. It is also the more nightmarish possibility, since it would imply that they were a comparatively fresh case… and hence more likely to be infectious.

(ii) The person was a weak case who managed to evade three prior tests before the fourth one caught them. This means they got the virus in the UK, and were basically outside their infectious period… which is the hopeful scenario. Seeing as the medical authorities have done full genome sequencing for the case, this would also give them a much better idea of where the person picked up the virus. And since the Ministry of Health does not sound too distressed, that again points to this scenario.

I’d further note that all identified contacts of this muppet have come back negative, and that since they were out and about on Boxing Day, any infections would have started to turn up on their own accord by now. So I think New Zealand has probably dodged the Omicron bullet. For now. I’d imagine that there will be plenty of Aucklanders getting tested tomorrow, and I hope like hell we now realise what a dangerous game we’re playing by allowing self-isolation.

Addendum: The person isn’t a New Zealander. They’re an international DJ!

https://twitter.com/NZStuff/status/1476087115695865857?s=20

Addendum II: Vaguely appropriate right now, in light of aforementioned DJ…

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