Covid spreads to Taupō, search for links to known cases

John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 13 Nov 2021, 9:16am
(File Photo: Newspix/NZ Herald)
(File Photo: Newspix/NZ Herald)

Covid spreads to Taupō, search for links to known cases

John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 13 Nov 2021, 9:16am

Covid has now spread to Taupō after an outbreak in Taranaki, the Ministry of Health has confirmed. 

A ministry statement says Toi Te Ora Public Health has notified the ministry of a positive COVID-19 case in Taupō. 

The person was tested on Thursday after becoming symptomatic earlier in the week. 

Interviews are continuing to determine any links to known cases. 

Toi Te Ora is following up on any potential locations of interest. Potential locations of interest will be notified on the Ministry's website. 

The person's other household contacts are being tested this morning. 

There is additional testing capacity in and around Taupō today and we urge anyone who may have symptoms, however mild, to visit one of the sites and get a test. 

Earlier Taupō mayor David Trewavas said he's been informed of a Covid-19 case in the community. 

Trewavas expressed disappointment and said he knew the day would unfortunately come. 

He's urging locals to get tested and vaccinated. 

Meanwhile a mall in Hamilton has become a location of interest in the Delta outbreak after a person with Covid was there two days in a row. 

The person was at North Beach Te Awa Mall between 8.15am and 6.15pm on Monday, November 8 and again on Tuesday, November 9, the Ministry of Health announced this morning. 

Anyone who was at the mall on those days should self-monitor for 14 days after the exposure date. If any symptoms developed they should get a test and stay home until they received a negative test result - and until 24 hours after their symptoms ended. 

The latest case comes as evidence emerges that the Delta outbreak has established a toehold in Taranaki and is infecting more than 100 people a day in Auckland, although officials say the health system is coping. 

Some people have pestered health professionals to get vaccine exemptions and anti-Government protesters have threatened a low-speed Saturday demonstration. 

Covid-19 is making inroads in the Waikato, with a new Ōtorohanga College case emerging yesterday, and is lingering in Northland, with four new cases. 

nasty surprise emerged in Taupō, where Covid-19 was detected in wastewater. 

Taupō mayor David Trewavas called the detection a worst-case scenario but said officials had planned extensively. 

"We'll fight it and hopefully we'll come out the other side good as gold," he said. 

As efforts continue to suppress regional outbreaks, festering questions about MIQ and the new traffic light system look set to influence political discussions in weeks ahead. 

There were 81 people in hospital with Covid-19 yesterday, including 11 in intensive care units. 

The majority of the hospitalised were unvaccinated. Only five were fully vaccinated. 

Intensive care units were 70 per cent full, and ventilator capacity was at 15 per cent. 

"We can manage, but it is important that we limit the loads on our hospitals," director of public health Caroline McElnay said. 

A 68-year-old father died in isolation at his Glen Eden home this week. He is the third person known to have died with Covid-19 while isolating at home. 

"People have died this week and that is tragic for their friends and family," McElnay said at yesterday's 1pm Wellington press conference. 

"It is a sad reminder that Covid is potentially fatal, and this is particularly true if you are unvaccinated." 

Yesterday afternoon, the Herald reported on the plight of that man's family. 

The family said compassionate police officers allowed them into Auckland from Northland for the funeral - but officials later declined a border exemption. 

Stories of seemingly arbitrary or heartless border restrictions have become a frequent occurrence, as domestic and international travel barriers persist. 

Auckland businessman Murray Bolton went to court to challenge a refusal to let him self-isolate after an overseas business trip. 

He told the Herald he was swamped with requests from people he and his lawyers believed had grounds for self-isolating on their return from abroad. 

"But they are still facing an obstinate bureaucracy that refuses to acknowledge the law or the reality of the virus in New Zealand." 

Independent health experts have also called for a shake-up of the MIQ system to better accommodate sick people and acknowledge the low risk vaccinated returnees present. 

Aucklanders, even the fully vaccinated, who want to leave the metropolis must get tested no earlier than 72 hours before departing, and return a negative result. 

So, what happens when you're packed and ready to leave but still don't have your test result? 

Former National Party cabinet minister Maurice Williamson posed that question, saying his wife was still waiting after 74 hours. 

"There is going to be the odd example of a human error," Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said yesterday afternoon. 

He said the average wait time for test results after taking swabs was currently 21 hours, which was satisfactory. 

The vaccination drive reached what Robertson described as two milestones, with 90 per cent of eligible people now partially vaccinated, and 80 per cent fully vaccinated. 

When those milestones might translate into everyday freedoms remains to be seen. 

But the Government has indicated restrictions may be lifted in Auckland on November 29. 

And in an interview with Newsroom, Ardern would not rule out activating the traffic light system nationwide, even if some regions fail to reach the 90 per cent double-dose target by November 29. 

The traffic light system involved three stages, all allowing relatively high rates of freedom compared to lockdowns under the older alert level system. 

The new system was expected to require vaccine certificates for many activities, possibly for almost everything other than essential retail and services. 

A nationwide shift to traffic lights would potentially stop one or two regions with low vaccination rates holding the rest of the country back this summer. 

All Auckland regions have surpassed the 80 per cent second dose point. But only 69 per cent of eligible people in Tairawhiti, in and around Gisborne, were fully vaccinated. 

The impact of anti-vaccination sentiment on doctors or nurses was also mentioned at yesterday's Beehive press conference. 

McElnay said health professionals were facing "considerable pressure" to give people exemptions from the vaccine. 

She said a single, national body would be established to manage exemption applications. 

Meanwhile, police promised to monitor traffic today amid threats of disruptions. 

The Freedom and Rights Coalition threatened a rolling gridlock of slow-moving vehicles at 11am today in undisclosed locations around New Zealand. 

The threat including travelling at 25km/h on Auckland motorways.