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New Zealand: British DJ under fire over 'first omicron case'

Kieran Burke
December 30, 2021

DJ "Dimension," believed to be New Zealand's first community case of the omicron variant, has sparked a backlash for not following the country's strict COVID protocols.

Picture of a turntable being operating by a DJ
The DJ had been scheduled to perform at a New Year festivalImage: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa/picture alliance

New Zealand health officials on Thursday expressed "disappointment" over a DJ who broke quarantine rules and tested positive for the omicron variant of the coronavirus

Robert Etheridge, also known as "DJ Dimension," is believed to be the first community case of the omicron variant in New Zealand.

He had traveled from the UK to New Zealand for a New Year festival.

New Zealand's Health Ministry earlier confirmed that the case had completed 10 days of isolation but left quarantine before receiving his final COVID test result.

According to the ministry, which had not named him, the case then went into restaurants, bars and clubs in downtown Auckland.

Etheridge confirmed that he tested positive for the omicron variant. He came out publicly to issue an apology on social media and said he had been subject to hateful messages after he was identified by media outlets as the first omicron case.

What did officials say?

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a press briefing that the DJ's actions were "disappointing."

Hipkins said that the exact number of people he was in contact with was still being identified and confirmed.

"With omicron, we don't have it here, we don't want it here and our tolerance is very low," Hipkins said.

The minister warned New Zealanders to take the virus seriously. "COVID-19 is not yet finished with us," Hipkins said.

New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins gestures during a press conference
Hipkins warned people that the coronavirus pandemic was not overImage: Robert Kitchin/AP Photo/picture alliance

DJ Dimension apologizes

"I cannot put into words how extremely sorry I am to everyone who will be impacted. Never in a million years did I think anything like this would be a reality in a country that I love so much and has always made me feel so welcome," his post on Instagram stated.

He added: "I realise the gravity of the situation and I am deeply regretful to those who have been impacted; including members of the public, event organisers and close contacts."

What is the COVID situation in New Zealand?

New Zealand has been guarding its relatively low infection rate when compared to other countries.

In total, the country has recorded 13,687 cases since the pandemic began and 51 deaths.

With a population of 5 million people, around 90% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Edited by: Farah Bahgat