'Oh s***' - Positive Bay of Plenty case, mayor tells of 'pretty leaky' border

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 10 Oct 2021, 9:20AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Oh s***' - Positive Bay of Plenty case, mayor tells of 'pretty leaky' border

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 10 Oct 2021, 9:20AM

A Bay of Plenty mayor has described the moment he found out a positive Delta case had been discovered in his district.

Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber said the health board called him about half an hour before the news broke on Saturday evening and his first reaction was "oh s***".

And Tauranga MP Simon Bridges tweeted: "Concerning to see a BOP case. I have two concerns with the announcement. Given I've got cases where people aren't allowed out of Auck to see dying family how does moving house get approval? & why wasn't this made public earlier? 6.17pm seems designed to miss the 6pm news."

The positive case has been living in Pukekohe but has been in the process of moving house to Katikati - and had been crossing the border into Bay of Plenty, with an exemption, as part of the move.

"It is what it is," said Webber. "It's the last thing that any district wants, let alone our district. Nobody wants it in their backyard; it's here."

Webber said the borders around level 3 areas were "pretty leaky".

He would "reluctantly" support a move to level 3 but said that decision was in the hands of the Government.

"We will go with the flow. If this is in our community then this is what we are gonna have to do."

He understood the person had been using the tracing app.

His message to the Katikati community was: "If in doubt, get a test, but without fail go get vaccinated."

Pop-up testing sites will open on Sunday in Western Bay of Plenty at:

  • Katikati Medical Centre, 4 Clive Rd, 8.30am-4.30pm
  • Katikati Rugby and Sports Clubrooms, Fairview Rd, Katikati 8.30am–4.30pm (hours will be extended if there is high demand)
  • Tauranga Accident and HealthCare, 19 Second Ave, 8am-6pm

Just under half of Katikati residents are fully vaccinated, according to Ministry of Health suburb data: 49.5 have two doses and 77.5 per cent have one.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the "Bay will hold its breath".

He encouraged anyone connected to Katikati to get a test and for everyone in the region stay calm and "vaccinate, vaccinate vaccinate".

"We will get through this."

The Ministry of Health announced the new case on Saturday night.

The person lives in Pukekohe and is in the process of moving to a rural area north of Katikati.

The test was taken on Friday in Auckland.

The test result has a high CT value usually seen in the early or late stage of infection and is under further investigation, including a repeat test, the ministry said in a statement.

The infected person has been granted an exemption to cross the boundary in and out of Auckland as they are in the process of shifting house.

As part of this, the individual has been having regular surveillance testing– at least five tests have been taken since the beginning of September, the most recent prior test was 5 October. All five of those tests were negative.

The individual who returned the positive result is fully vaccinated and has reported no symptoms, aside from seasonal hayfever.

The ministry said the person is a consistent user of the Covid tracer app and initial information has identified locations of interest in Katikati and Pukekohe, with details to follow.

All family members have been contacted and are currently isolating, with results from testing expected on Sunday.

The current public health assessment is that the risk appears low given the person's vaccination status, regular test history, good use of the app and rapid contact, testing and isolation of family members.

It was a busy Saturday night at Talisman Hotel in Katikati, but owner Michele Reichmuth had some cancellations after news of the positive case came through.

One cancellation was made by phone from a person who had just arrived at the hotel and was in the carpark, she said.

"I just said, 'you have to do what you feel comfortable with'."

One group cancelled their sit-down meal, but opted for takeaways instead.

Those already at the hotel when the news came through stayed, she said.

"No one got up and left the restaurant, but there was a lot of talk around."

Meanwhile, a worker at Caltex Katikati, which is open 24 hours, said they locked their doors after hearing of the positive case.

"The customers have to come to the window. We don't usually do that before the night shift. It's just for us, till we know what's going on."

Customers were confused by doors being closed earlier than usual, but "pretty laid back" about the situation, she said.

"That might change though if we get some more [positive cases]."

Earlier

There are 34 new cases of Covid in the community, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there is no evidence the case that sent Northland into level 3 is connected to the Mongrel Mob.

Of the new community cases, 31 are in Auckland and three are in Waikato - all cases in Waikato are linked while 11 cases in Auckland are yet to be linked. There are five active subclusters that are not epidemiologically linked.

The government moved Northland from alert level 2 to alert level 3 in a sudden announcement last night, after an Auckland woman who had visited Northland tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jacinda Ardern said today there was "no evidence" to support some of the claims circulating around the Northland case.

Speaking to multiple media outlets today, former deputy prime minister Winston Peters claimed the woman had gang connections and travelled through Auckland's border to the Bay of Islands and back.

He said there are more details that officials know and should have been made public.

But Ardern said there was "no evidence" to back up some of the claims that have been circulating online and the government was not withholding any vital information.

"As we've had information about their movements, we've released them. But this is a case where the individual, despite the involvement of the police, has not been forthcoming and that is why we took a very precautionary approach, and that was the right one.

"What we do know from video and CCTV footage is that the individual in question was travelling with a woman. We know that for the place in which they were staying for that period of time has also confirmed that they were travelling with a woman. And the person that has been implicated through some of that social media chat, has themselves confirmed that they were not in the Northland region.

"My understanding is that police have identified that individual and is working hard to locate them."

In a statement, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins reiterated Ardern's comment that there was no evidence the Covid-positive woman was helped across the Northland border by the Mongrel Mob.

He said police were involved and CCTV footage showed the positive case travelling with another woman - which was confirmed by staff at the Comfort Hotel Flames in Whangārei.

Police have identified the second woman but had not yet located her.

"The person rumoured to have been with her has stated he was not in Northland," Hipkins said.

"I've not been informed of the case's occupation or associations."

Today's earlier cases

There are 26 people in hospital in total: North Shore (3), Middlemore (13), Auckland (8), Waikato Base Hospital (1), Palmerston North (1). Seven of the 26 people are in intensive care or high dependency units.

The Herald understands the case in hospital in Palmerston North is an Auckland truck driver who tested positive and has been isolating.

74 per cent (31) of yesterday's cases had exposure events in the community.

A total of 85,757 vaccinations were administered yesterday - 32,051 of which were to Aucklanders. Of the total, 18,568 were first doses and 67,189 were second doses.