A British DJ has sparked fury in New Zealand after bringing the first case of Omicron through its strictly-controlled borders and going out clubbing before testing positive.
Dimension, real name Robert Etheridge, arrived on a flight from the UK via Doha on December 16 and returned three negative tests before testing positive on December 27, as a result of a day nine test.
The 30-year-old was supposed to spend seven days at a quarantine facility in Auckland and then three days self-isolating.
But he broke the quarantine rules by ‘self-releasing’ before the results of that day nine test came back, hitting the town in Auckland where he partied at a nightclub on Boxing Day until the early hours of Monday.
Mr Etheridge also posted images of himself at a beach on Waiheke Island – a one hour ferry ride from Auckland – on Christmas Day.
Those pictures have since been deleted and replaced by a statement which claims that he was ‘of the understanding that I had completed my quarantine’ and that he only received the negative test two days after he thought it had ended.
But furious New Zealanders have rounded on him for bringing the highly-infectious new variant into the community. Although there have been cases of Omicron in quarantine, Mr Etheridge is the first infected person to enter the community.
Dimension, aka Robert Etheridge, posted images of himself at a beach on Waiheke Island – a one hour ferry ride from Auckland – on Christmas Day
Dimension on a beach an hour away from Auckland on Christmas Day
Etheridge posted a statement to his Instagram page claiming he believed his isolation period had finished and that he got a positive test on day twelve. But according to the rules, he should not have entered the community until after the test came back
Furious New Zealanders have rounded on Mr Etheridge for bringing the highly-infectious new variant into the community. Although there have been cases of Omicron in quarantine, Mr Etheridge is the first infected person to enter the community.
‘Wow. What gives you the right to come into another country and blatantly ignore their isolation rules?’ Wrote Anneke Turner on his Instagram page.
Another user called Ayla, said: ‘What made you feel you were above the rules? you do realise you’ve put not only your career, but people’s families, careers, livelihoods, and lives at risk!?’
And Lisa Whyte asked: ‘Why are you deleting your NZ posts? Are you going to apologise for breaking the rules and bringing omicron here?’
At the time of his arrival, travellers to New Zealand were required to complete a seven-day stay in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) followed by self-isolation at home for three days.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health said that he should have waited for the result of the day nine test before ‘self-releasing’ from the Auckland quarantine facility where he had been staying.
In a statement posted to his Instagram late on Wednesday, Mr Etheridge wrote: ‘I’m devastated to share that after 10 days of isolation, I tested positive for Omicron whilst in New Zealand. In line with the Government rules, I was in managed isolation for seven days followed by three days of home isolation.
‘During this time, I received three negative tests and showed no symptoms. After completing my ten-day isolation, and of the understanding that I had completed my quarantine, I entered the community.
‘To my shock and enormous concern, I unexpectedly received a positive test on day twelve, two days after my isolation period had ended.’
That came around an hour after the Ministry of Health announced a border-related Omicron case had been out and about in the Auckland CBD on Boxing Day and December 27.
The ministry said that a nightclub and a bar were among five locations of interest connected with the case.
Etheridge arrived in New Zealand via Doha and had been due to headline a music festival on the South Island
It said that the infected person, since confirmed to be Mr Etheridge, did not wait for a negative test result before ‘self-releasing’.
The health ministry said those who were at Impala Bar between 11pm on Boxing Day to 3am on Monday are close contacts and should isolate for seven to 10 days.
In addition it said that those who were at the Commercial Bay precinct on Boxing Day from 2.30-4.30pm and 6.30 to 8pm, Sunny Town on Lorne St on Boxing Day from 2.30-4.30pm, Partridge Jewellers on Boxing Day from 3.30-6pm, Ahi Restaurant in Commercial Bay on Boxing Day from 6.30–8pm, or Soul Bar from 9.30pm on Boxing Day to 3am on Monday are ‘casual contacts.’
These people should watch for symptoms over the next 14 days and get tested immediately if they suspect they have the virus.
Mr Etheridge had been due to headline Rhythm and Alps festival on the South Island but withdrew alongside fellow British artist Friction.
Police check north bound travellers vaccination passes or negative covid tests at the Northland checkpoint at Uretiti on SH1 on December 15, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.
A vaccine passport checkpoint in Auckland on December 15
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Friction also took to social media to announce he would not be performing over close contact with a ‘potential Covid case’.
Friction had played at Hidden Lakes Festival in Christchurch on Tuesday.
In a post on Instagram, Friction, real name Ed Keeley, said he was heading into isolation.
‘The safety of everyone at the event, as well as the whole of New Zealand is the most important thing to me above everything,’ he wrote.
‘I’m absolutely heartbroken but promise I will see you all very soon.’
New Zealand has no Omicron cases in its community yet and has recorded 17 cases at its border quarantine facilities.