Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received her COVID-19 booster shot, warning Omicron will soon breach New Zealand’s border defences.
Ms Ardern marked her first Monday back from summer holidays by getting a third shot of Pfizer vaccine in Auckland.
The booster is seen as crucial for resistance against the Omicron variant currently ravaging many countries, including Australia, but is yet to take hold across the Tasman.
“We know that with Omicron it’s a case of when, not if,” Ms Ardern warned.
“That is why the booster campaign is so critical.
“We have the ability to learn from other nations (that have suffered outbreaks) and see the impact and the way that Omicron is behaving.”
New Zealanders must wait four months from their second shot to receive a booster.
Until the weekend, Kiwi officials had picked up just three community cases of the Omicron variant.
The first was a British DJ who broke isolation rules to party in Auckland with the virus in late December, quickly followed by Air New Zealand crew member and one of their household contacts.
On Saturday, routine border testing identified a worker with COVID-19, and on Sunday, genomic testing confirmed the woman was the fourth Omicron case.
Ms Ardern said contact tracing was yet to produce evidence of community transmission.
“All of the testing we have undertaken around the (border) worker has come back negative,” she said.
“It is very encouraging to see the close contacts and in particular household members have returned negative tests so far.”
Further close contacts from a bus trip are yet to be tested, but Ms Ardern noted the woman with COVID-19 “did everything right” and was wearing a mask on her journey.
On Monday, health officials announced 16 new community cases, taking the seven-day rolling average to 22.
New cases were found in Auckland, Rotorua, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and a historical case in West Coast.
Cases are mounting at the border, including another 42 on Monday which ups the average to 34 over the past week.
There are 30 people in New Zealand’s hospital with COVID-19, including two in intensive care.
On Monday, the government also removed the requirement for unvaccinated Aucklanders to produce a negative test before leaving their city.
This was a key measure designed to stop the spread of the virus outside New Zealand’s biggest city, the centre of the Delta outbreak which began in August.