New Zealand's Patient Zero: DJ Dimension
During the first wave of COVID-19, New Zealand was a trailblazer in ensuring its citizens were safe, becoming the first country that was COVID-free. The world looked on as they enjoyed live events and lived life normally, while global uncertainty and misinformation rushed through the air with no end in sight.
However, back in October, New Zealand planned to ditch its Zero Covid Policy in the face of the delta variant, saying that it was too infectious and tricky to stop. And by December, international DJs were flying into New Zealand to perform at New Years Eve events and summer festivals.
On the official website for the Ministry of Health, it states, "Almost every person who arrives in New Zealand, other than those from a quarantine-free travel zone (unless directed), must stay in MIQ [Managed isolation and quarantine]. Their stay will be for a minimum of 10 days (240 hours) from when they arrive in New Zealand.
"International arrivals will be tested a minimum of two and possibly up to four times, on day 0/1, day 3, day 5/6 and around day 8/9 (prior to departure)."
About a week ago, reports said a UK DJ was patient zero of the Omicron variant in New Zealand. And despite not being named at first, people put the pieces together, and Briton Robert Etheridge, also known as D&B producer Dimension, was at the center of the case.
Dimension responds on social media, explaining that the whole thing was a "misunderstanding." He divulges:
"I'm devastated to share that after ten days of isolation, I tested positive for Omicron while in New Zealand. In line with the Government rules, I was managed in 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."
The DJ visited shops, restaurants, and a nightclub in Auckland before completing his full quarantine. He offers an apology at the end of his post, saying, "I cannot put into words how extremely sorry I am to everyone who will be impacted."
In the post's caption, he also mentions receiving "hate and abuse" due to his "misunderstandings." While there may be an outrage of people online who are upset at the DJ for his irresponsible acts, it doesn't seem that Etheridge will face any real consequences.
The Ministry of Health responded that they "do not plan to refer to the police at this stage." Adding, "The ministry continues to assess the need for enforcement action in relation to breaches of the Covid-19 Public Health Response Order on a case-by-case basis, and may seek action in instances where this would support the public health response."
Not everyone agrees with this decision. National Party Covid-19 response spokesman Chris Bishop commented, "The rules are there for a reason. Ultimately, it's a decision for the officials to make. But I think people will raise their eyebrows at that one. If rules aren't enforced, why should people follow them?"