News of the country's first Omicron case of Covid-19 is not a cause for panic because we have the tools to keep it at bay still, officials say.
Now government officials are due to discuss ways to fight the highly transmissible variant - including whether the time period between getting the second Pfizer vaccination and the booster shot needs to be brought forward.
New Zealand's first confirmed case of Omicron was confirmed yesterday after being identified in a person staying at the Sudima Christchurch Airport managed isolation and quarantine facility.
The infected person - who has both jabs of the Pfizer vaccine - arrived here last Friday, December 10, on a flight from Germany via Dubai.
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed this morning that no further positive Omicron cases connected to the person involved have been identified since yesterday.
He told Newstalk ZB's Mike Yardley everyone who was on the flight that brought the person involved to New Zealand and the linking domestic flight to Christchurch were in quarantine and undergoing testing regimes.
"We'll be watching closely to see if there are any other positive tests," he said.
While he could not rule out any further infections from the flight, Bloomfield said they are expecting a short period of time where they will see Omicron cases across the border.
But the goal was to ensure that Omicron stayed at the border and not leak into the community.
"I've got a high level of confidence," Bloomfield said on the ability of the variant remaining in MIQ.
A bus driver who transported the infected person to their hotel is also being tested; while everyone on the same flight is now also considered a close contact.
Bloomfield reiterated that people should not be worried about Omicron because it had been caught at the border.
"The measures we have at the moment - at the border and the fact New Zealand has reached a 90 per cent full vaccination milestone - means we are as prepared as we can be right now," he told TVNZ's Breakfast show.
Ministers in talks about getting booster shots out earlier in light of Omicron
The Covid vaccine booster programme is also another tool that will help keep the new Covid variant at bay.
Bloomfield said evidence from cases overseas showed that the third booster jab was important in the fight against Omicron.
Bloomfield also revealed that he had been given advice in the past couple of days on the time period between getting the second jab and the booster shot.
Currently, there is a six-month period between those two jabs.
He said the advice he has been given in recent days will be up for discussion among Government officials and ministers.
"It may be that a shorter interval will ensure that people do get that booster and increase to their protection at the right time - in case we get Omicron in the country."
While he had not finalised his advice to ministers, Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB that the shorter interval would see people receive their third dose by the six month mark leading to a highest possible immunity against Omicron heading into the next winter.
He expected there would be an announcement on bringing the booster shots forward before Christmas. However, that was up to ministers to decide, he said.
Bloomfield said there were over 2 million Pfizer shots here and deliveries across 2022 scheduled and was confident about supply should a decision be made to bring the third shot forward.
On opening up the border to Australian-based Kiwis mid next month, he said that that was now up for review.
Local lockdowns cannot be ruled out
Asked about lockdowns, Bloomfield said although that was not something any of us wanted to go through again - particularly Aucklanders - taking it off the table was not a smart thing to do during a pandemic.
He said that if necessary and if the health system became pressured, local lockdowns may still happen.
"What we've learnt over the last nearly two years of this pandemic is you use everything you've got when you need to."
Asked what he would be getting a break and what he has planned for Christmas, Bloomfield said he would doing everything he can to spend time with family and friends and enjoying a Kiwi summer - "if this jolly rain stops".
"This virus is quite clearly not done with us yet. But we've done incredibly well this year."
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said although news of Omicron arriving on our shores was a cause of concern, it was not a cause for panic.
"The MIQ system had been set up to deal with a very highly transmissible variant and while it was not 100 per cent perfect, it had served us well," he said.
"We've set a framework up to deal with Delta we'll continually look at that and make sure it's appropriate to deal with Omicron.
"I've got confidence in our systems and we're working closely with the Ministry of Health and what we might need to do to tweak anything to do to be appropriate for Omicron."
Robertson said the Cabinet would meet on Monday to discuss the Omicron situation but said ministers were continually meeting with officials.
The booster situation to counter Omicron would be an important topic of conversation in coming days.
"The advice coming to the Ministry of Health is landing and we'll get advice in the next couple of days."