3 Covid cases in Mt Eden prison; gangs not to blame for spread - Brash

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Oct 2021, 7:11AM

3 Covid cases in Mt Eden prison; gangs not to blame for spread - Brash

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Oct 2021, 7:11AM

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A third Covid case has been revealed inside Auckland's Mt Eden prison.

The Herald has confirmed there were two inmates who had been placed in the prison's dedicated "Echo" wing.

Now a third infected person arrived at the remand prison at the weekend, Stuff has reported.

Meanwhile former National Party leader Don Brash has come out in defence of the gang community, saying the Government appears to be making them the "fall guys" for the spread of Covid-19.

Brash, who works as the treasurer of an initiative started by the Mongrel Mob, said he was worried about the ongoing situation relating to people affiliated with gangs were to blame for spreading Covid.

"I am worried that gangs are being made the fall guys for something that they have had no control over.

"We are told that gangs are responsible for spreading this virus. If that's true, the Government should confirm it," he said.

"If there is evidence, let's see it. Otherwise, it's scaremongering and not helpful at all."

Brash's words were released in a press statement sent out by the Mongrel Mob ahead of a Covid information workshop and vaccination event being set up on Saturday targeting those affiliated with the gang.

The event was said to be scheduled for August 20 - just a few days after the country was put into a sudden alert level 4 lockdown after a single positive case was identified in a man from Devonport, Auckland.

Those due to take part in the workshop include indigenous health experts Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, of the National Māori Pandemic Group and Pasifika health leader Dr Collin Tukuitonga, associate professor for the Public Health Department at Auckland University.

President of the gang's Waikato chapter, Sonny Fatupaito, said claims that Covid-19 had spread among members in the Waikato region - after members in South Auckland contracted the virus - were false.

"There is not and we are working hard to keep it that way."

Fatupaito said as a leader in the gang, he wanted to highlight the seriousness of the disease.

"We must prepare our families and communities for what is coming, as we have seen the impacts of Covid in our members and families overseas."

This morning, former deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said Mongrel Mob life member Harry Tam should tell people whether there was any gang affiliation with two women - one who tested positive for the virus - who travelled to Northland and where they went.

In a tweet he also blasted the Government saying if they knew the identity of the second woman then they needed to tell Northlanders now as only they would know where she had been and where she was in hiding.

He said withholding this information guaranteed the virus would spread across the region.

Peters told Three's AM Show that the information he had was that Tam had gone to Northland, but what was "difficult to understand" was how he got there.

He said a woman was involved and there had been a "cover up" going on. Peters believed the second woman was travelling with Tam who had a permit to travel to Auckland and brought the woman under "false premises".

Peters questioned why Northland was in lockdown when it did not even have a positive case.

In comparison, Katikati in the Bay of Plenty had a positive case and yet it was not in lockdown. He questioned the consistency.

Minister of Health Andrew Little revealed that although he did not have any new case numbers to report, he said he expected them to look "better" today.

He told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that figures should also look better in terms of unlinked Covid cases.

As for the woman still missing in Northland, he said authorities had contacted her but still did not know where she was.

He said, however, that police had found CCTV footage relating to her.

Referring to gang involvement in that case, Little said there was no connection with gangs. There were infected members earlier on in the outbreak, he said.

Cabinet decision on alert level changes due 4pm

Cabinet is due to meet again before a decision about any alert level changes is announced at 4pm. Little said they had not yet made the final decision about alert levels.

University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said he felt uneasy about the "exponential rise" of Covid-19 cases in Auckland and it was now whether the health system could handle such a large number of hospitalisations.

About 10 per cent of the current cases going to hospital was a very high proportion and twice as high as what New Zealand was used to. New Zealand had to act early rather than wait until the system was overwhelmed, he said.

Baker said the right strategy was being taken outside Auckland by moving into a short sharp lockdown if any new cases popped up to ensure contact tracing could be carried out.

He thought the "broad goal" was still ideally elimination, but said Auckland might have to settle for continuing cases for the next couple of months until there was "really high vaccine coverage".

More locations of interest

More locations of interest have been released this morning - including more in Auckland and two exposure events in Raglan.

BP Raglan has been linked to a person with Covid twice last week - firstly on Tuesday, between 5.14pm and 5.46pm and Thursday between 11.59am and 12.31pm.

  • Mobil Wiri: 62 Wiri Station Rd, Wiri, South Auckland
    • Countdown Te Atatū, corner of Edmonton Rd and Te Atatū Rd, Te Atatū, West Auckland
    • BP Raglan: 2 Main Rd, Raglan (twice)
    • New World Mt Roskill: 53 May Rd, Mt Roskill, Auckland
    • Countdown Auckland Metro: 19-25 Victoria St West, Auckland CBD