Jacinda Ardern will force household Covid contacts to isolate for 24 DAYS in new crackdown as New Zealand braces for Omicron outbreak
- New rules will see household contacts in quarantine for almost a month
- Critics warn it will stop many people from getting tested to avoid isolation
- It comes as the nation record 84 cases on Saturday, with 41 of them travellers
- New Zealand still aiming to be Covid Zero but airport worker now has Omicron
New Zealand will make household contacts of Covid cases isolate for 24 days under harsh new rules brought in to combat an impending Omicron outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought in the strict measures as the country battles to stay Covid Zero despite the threat of the highly contagious mutant strain.
But critics say the lengthy quarantine period is ‘unworkable’ and will lead people to avoid getting tested.
Anyone infected with Covid is now required to isolate for 14 days, up from 10 days under the new interim rules.
Household contacts must then stay in quarantine for a further 10 days, stretching the time alone out to three and a half weeks.
New Zealand will make household contacts of Covid cases isolate for 24 days under harsh new rules brought in to combat an impending Omicron outbreak (pictured, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern)
The extension to isolation comes as New Zealand recorded 84 new Covid cases on Saturday, with 43 in the community and another 41 caught at the border.
It includes an Auckland airport worker who tested positive for the omicron strain, sparking fears case numbers could soar up to 1500 a day or more if the mutant strain spreads across the nation.
The NZ Ministry of Health said the changes were made after new scientific data published in Japan revealed the highly infectious strain has a longer incubation period than previous variants with sufferers also shedding the virus for longer.
Anyone infected with Covid is now required to isolate for 14 days and household contacts must then stay in quarantine for a further 10 days (pictured, drive in vaccination at Auckland airport)
But Ardern’s critics warn the extreme policy is ‘unworkable’ and could lead to more Covid cases with greater number refusing to be tested in order to avoid the lengthy quarantine period.
‘The effect is that if you test positive, members of your household may have to isolate for 24 days,’ Act political party leader David Seymour told NZ’s Stuff.
‘People who cannot afford that will have a strong incentive not to get tested, defeating the purpose of the policy.
‘If the advice is taken seriously, it will cripple the health workforce and supply chains more generally.’
Critics warn the extreme policy is ‘unworkable’ and could lead to more Covid cases with greater number refusing to be tested in order to avoid the lengthy quarantine period (pictured, anti-vaxxer protesters at a Covid vaccination clinic in Auckland)
However experts say the change is the government doing a U-turn on a a decision to shorten isolation time made last November.
‘This is not new – we’ve just gone back to the time periods we had before that change a couple of months ago,’ epidemiologist Michael Baker said.
‘Our management of the virus is still to keep Omicron out and we’ve got to have tougher rules to do that.
‘But everything is going to change when the almost inevitable outbreak occurs here.’
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