'It's deeply frustrating' - Waiheke Island councillor on Covid case

Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 2:12PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

'It's deeply frustrating' - Waiheke Island councillor on Covid case

Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 2:12PM

Trying to get information from officials about Waiheke Island's latest case was "deeply frustrating", Waiheke Island's community board deputy chair says.

Cath Handley says the Ministry of Health continues to refuse to answer basic questions about the case announced yesterday; one as simple as - do they live on the island?

The case is believed to work on the North Shore and travelled via the Sea Link vehicle ferry to Waiheke on Sunday from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point.

In announcing 60 new cases of Covid-19 today, 56 in Auckland and four in Waikato, Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the Waiheke person was an essential worker and they were isolating alone.

"They are isolating safely, they were able to isolate alone in a place where there's no contact with other people on the property. They have been assessed as low risk."

There had been no exposure events from the person's time on the island.

Asked his thoughts about whether it was desirable for people to self-isolate wherever they wanted - Waiheke Island - Bloomfield said he couldn't comment specifically about that case but the isolation on Waiheke was "watertight".

He said he was unaware of any border breaches.

Handley had been battling to get further details about the case for concerned locals, but continued to hit brick walls.

"Yes, it's been deeply frustrating. I've been unravelling situations for the past 18 months or so on behalf of residents and the board and seeking effective controls for the regulations and it's painstaking and difficult work to achieve that.

"We're chasing answers, I'm just writing [questions] now.

"I'm going to fight, I'm going to do anything I can to get information for our community and our community is 100 per cent entitled to that information.

"We must stand for our community and stand very hard here. Given that we are more isolated and we still have an unvaccinated group."

Handley said what was released yesterday, "was good because they said there were no locations of interest on Waiheke but there was too much that was left unsaid so we are chasing those answers".

"I have been in discussions with other board members this morning, so we will chase those through the minister and ministry.

"We don't know if the person is a resident, we don't know if the person breached a multitude of regulations already."

Even if the person was a permanent resident, they could still have breached some protocols, she said.

"If the person was symptomatic when tested then they would have been told they couldn't go anywhere, stay home, wherever that is, and not travel anywhere.

"So between the test and getting here it would seem to be that one basic protocol was breached."

However, if they weren't a resident "then there may be multiple breaches".

That would then counter Bloomfield's "high trust model" of home isolation.

"The question for me, should the community of Waiheke rely on this high trust model and why?"

"We don't know anything at this point and we do need those answers through public health."

Handley understood privacy concerns could be waived in light of the public interest.

"I understand that issues of privacy can be waived for that reason and it is more likely that people within the health system, kind of, over-worry about the privacy issues when in actual fact the public health legislation overrides some of those privacy concerns.

"I would think the general public of Waiheke are entitled to a much higher degree of information and transparency than we have had so far."

In a post on Facebook, Waiheke Medical Centre said the case was not detected or tested on the island and did not contract the virus while on the island.

"The case went directly to their residence and has had no contact with anyone. There are no locations of interest on Waiheke Island for the community to be concerned about in relation to this case," the post said.

Yesterday, Handley told the Herald the positive case was of "great significance" as Waiheke Island was a small community of less than 10,000 which meant the virus could spread very quickly.