Some 16 flight crew and two pilots currently in isolation after coming into contact with an Omicron-infected person will find out tomorrow if they have tested negative for the variant.
The group came in contact with a person who tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid-19 on a flight to Australia.
The 16 crew have been identified as close contacts and two pilots have been identified as casual contacts, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.
They are isolating in an MIQ facility as is standard procedure for air travel crew.
The 14 aircrew are isolating in a MIQ facility and are being tested today. The results are expected tomorrow.
They underwent pre-departure PCR tests before to flying to New Zealand, which have returned negative results, the Ministry confirmed to the Herald. They have all been fully vaccinated.
They will stay in the MIQ facility for 10 days with further testing.
"At this stage, because no cases have been detected from the flight, the details of the flight is not being released," the Ministry said. It confirmed the flight did not come from New Zealand.
All of the 34 passengers on the flight are in MIQ as per international arrival requirements.
All but one person, who is exempt from testing due to their age, have returned a negative test so far.
The international flight crew's exposure was first announced by the MoH yesterday afternoon.
They crew arrived in New Zealand on Monday night.
A MoH spokesperson said the overseas-based aircrew are required to stay in a managed isolation facility for the duration of their layover in New Zealand.
They are also required to follow a wide range of PPE and IPC protocols to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
The Ministry of Health is defending not providing details of the airline or flight because there was "no pressing public health need", given no cases have been detected from that flight.
However contact tracing and investigations were ongoing and all international arrivals are required to isolate in a MIQ facility for seven days and have three tests during that time, the spokesperson said.
After returning negative tests, they then have to self-isolate in a private residence and return a final negative test on day nine before being released from isolation.
They are not Air New Zealand employees, the national carrier confirmed to the Herald yesterday.
The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly globally and countries are responding by tightening border restrictions and ramping up protection measures in the community.
The new variant could affect the reopening of New Zealand's borders next year with the government saying it is keeping a close eye on what is happening overseas. The highly transmissible variant is expected to become the most dominant variant in the UK before the end of the week.