In New Zealand, which is one of the very few countries unaffected by the new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, Christmas was celebrated with few restrictions on Saturday. The Omicron cases found in New Zealand have been safely confined at the border, as per the reports of AP News. In the country, 95% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, making it one of the world's most vaccinated countries, it has only seen 50 deaths in a population of 5.5 million.
Auckland, which is New Zealand's largest metropolis, was placed on lockdown for 188 days in August. At its peak, the Delta-driven outbreak reached approximately 220 cases per day. Due to limitations in the country's controlled isolation and quarantine programme, some New Zealanders living and working overseas were permitted to come home this Christmas.
According to AP News, some New Zealanders celebrated Christmas at Antarctica's Scott Base. During this time of the year in New Zealand, every year, approximately 200 individuals travel through the base, including scientists, support workers and Defense Force troops who provide communications and other services. But this year due to the ongoing pandemic, numbers are significantly low, and all personnel heading toward it must be tested for COVID-19 before departure.
Most Pacific Island nations, whose health systems may have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 outbreaks, have mainly kept the virus out by rigorous border controls and high vaccination rates, according to AP News. Australia, on the other hand, celebrated Christmas with a surge of COVID-19 cases where people were forced to wear masks.
However, despite the fact that New Zealand has not seen a significant surge after the arrival of Omicron, a Pacific public health specialist stated that it is only a matter of time before community transmission of COVID-19's new variant, Omicron occurs in South Auckland, according to New Zealand Herald. Collin Tukuitonga, who is an assistant professor of public health at Auckland University, said the potential impact of the new variant of the virus in South Auckland is a developing concern. He stated that they don't know a lot about Omicron, but one thing they do know is that it's very contagious and for that reason, he predicts that New Zealand will see a surge of Omicron cases.