The regional fight against Omicron could be about to start after two cases in Tauranga were linked to the January Omicron cluster.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said they were being treated as Omicron cases and whole-genome sequencing was underway to confirm the variant.
No cases in Rotorua have been linked to the Omicron cluster but Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said its focus on Delta's arrival last year would help in the fight against Omicron.
It comes as a public health expert anticipates a "rapid rise" in cases over the next month.
The two Tauranga cases were among 10 new community cases of the Covid-19 variant, taking the total in the country to 29.
Both cases were in the same household and were isolated at home, the Ministry of Health said. There were a "limited" number of exposure events linked to the cases but investigations were still underway.
University of Waikato professor of public health Ross Lawrenson said there would be a "rapid rise" in cases over the next 30 days.
March and April would see "a lot of cases" before hopefully settling down again, he said.
"I think that's the general feeling around the country around our modelling that it's going to be a pretty steep rise.
"We are still as a country looking to contain these Omicron cases and I'm sure that that's what's happening in the Bay of Plenty at the moment - to try and slow down that spread and protect the health sector.
"But depending on how long they've been infectious for, it may well be that you'll see other cases popping up quite quickly."
For those who were not eligible for their booster shots yet and were worried about the Omicron cases, Lawrenson advised to "watch and wait" as the Government may shorten the recommendation from four months to three months for booster shots after getting the second dose.
"Certainly those who have reached their four months should go off and get their boosters."
Saville-Wood said the DHB's preparations for the Delta strain's arrival in the community would help with Omicron.
"Because Omicron is so infectious we will get to a stage where it will be hard to do everything we would like to do."
Saville-Wood said when that time came, the DHB's focus would be on supporting the most vulnerable.
"The majority of the community will be able to self-manage."
He said the best thing for residents of the Lakes DHB area to do was to ensure their vaccination status was up to date and they had their booster shots.
"Vaccination does reduce the level of severity of the virus."
Saville-Wood also encouraged residents to "do the normal planning they would do under any other civil emergency event."
"Make sure you have got sufficient food and water. It's not panic buying it's just being prepared."
Saville-Wood said the public should keep up health precautions such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said it was natural for people to be worried about the arrival of Omicron.
"Our very way of life is being challenged."
However, Morrison said a lot of hard work was being done to "keep us moving forward."
"We're in a phase of preparation. Work out a family plan for when someone tests positive. Get vaccinated.
"The next steps beyond that will depend on the daily case numbers."
Morrison said there were lessons to be learnt from Australia and around the world.
"We're in a fortunate position because of the vaccination levels we have. Every day free from Omicron is another day for us to be prepared."
Morrison said the focus was on making sure school children could be vaccinated.
Markets Twelve 21 business development executive Julia Haira described Omicron's arrival as "scary" news.
"We've been on this rollercoaster before and we all want to get off but we'll ride it until it's over.
"Markets Twelve 21 are going to continue operating as per usual. We're just following the mandates from the Government and as they're updated we're going to update."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick did not find the potential arrival of Omicron in the region surprising.
"It's getting nearer and we were thrilled that we hit the 90 per cent [vaccination] target.
"We know that and the best protection is to have your booster and to get the children jabbed and in the meantime look at the locations of interest and keep yourselves safe with hand-washing, mask-wearing and contact tracing."
Chadwick said she was in contact with the Lakes DHB on a weekly basis.
"We have council staff involved helping in a collaborative response.
"The difficulty will come if it starts to affect supply chains and health staff."