Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Positive case in Bay of Plenty – 34 new cases today
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 this evening and his first reaction was “oh s***”.
And tonight, 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.
The Ministry of Health announced the new case tonight.
The person lives in Pukekohe and is in the process of moving to a rural area north of Katikati.
The test was taken yesterday 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.
The infected person has been granted an exemption to cross the boundary in and out of Auckland as they were 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 wasOctober 5. 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 isolating, with results from testing expected tomorrow.
The current public health assessment is that the risk appears low given the person’s vaccine.
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.
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.”
“My understanding is that police have identified that individual and is working hard to locate them.”
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 found 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.”
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.
There had been no unexpected wastewater detections in the past 24 hours, including new detections in Hamilton and Palmerston North – on Wednesday and Thursday.
About 5000 testing swabs were taken in the Waikato yesterday. Pop-up testing sites are operating today at Claudelands, Te Rapa, Karāpiro, Raglan and Kāwhia. The existing testing centre at Founders Theatre is also open.
A record number of vaccinations were administered in the Waikato with 9946 doses given. Large increases were reportedly seen in rural areas. In the Waikato, 78.2 per cent those eligible have now received their first dose and 52.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.
As at 6am today, 184,201 doses had been administered across Northland – comprising 108,885 first doses and 75,316 second doses.
As Northland moved into snap level 3 status overnight, public health experts have warned against any move to further loosen restrictions in Auckland next week for fear of case numbers spiralling out of control.
Cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss any potential changes in Covid-19 levels.
Ministers early last night held an emergency meeting where they decided to place Northland into level 3 until midnight Tuesday. That decision, as well as whether restrictions in Auckland could be loosened, will be debated on Monday.
But Covid-19 modeller Michael Plank – speaking after 44 new community cases were confirmed yesterday – warned against any thought of easing up on Auckland.
“It does already look like cases are trending upwards, so I think relaxing further at this stage would be a real risk that you’d see cases spiral out of control.”
Mystery has surrounded the Covid-positive woman who travelled through Northland before the region moved to level 3.
Former deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made a bombshell statement on morning television, saying the woman was brought to Northland by the Mongrel Mob under false pretences.
Peters alleged the woman stayed in a hotel in central Whangārei, but when she had a Covid test and it came back positive, she fled to a marae further north, he told Newshub Nation.
When police went to arrest her at the marae, she had already left, Peters said.
The Ministry of Health says the person remains in an Auckland quarantine facility. A second person, who is thought to have travelled with the case, has not yet been able to be contacted.
Public health staff continue to work closely with the case and the police to determine any locations of interest or exposure events, the ministry said.
The Mongrel Mob leader named by Peters says the allegations are “totally unfounded”.
Newstalk ZB’s Jack Tame says the leader told him over the phone he was in Auckland and he had not been to Northland during this outbreak. “He laughed and said he believed the allegations had been driven by a moral panic over gangs.”
The claims, along with other allegations about the woman, have been widely circulated on social media, text and email but have not been confirmed by officials or the Government.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a hastily arranged press conference last night that he did not have information to suggest the woman was connected to a gang.
A reporter at the press conference said they had been told the woman is a sex worker but Hipkins said he could not confirm that – he had not been briefed that was the case.
Peters told Newshub Nation he was absolutely certain of his sources and claimed health authorities and Ardern knew days ago who the person travelled with.
The Herald has been attempting to confirm speculation about the case, before Peters’ appearance on television.
Police have referred all inquiries to the Ministry of Health this morning. “For privacy reasons, wherever possible, the Ministry of Health doesn’t comment on individuals,” a spokesman said.
Hipkins revealed yesterday that the woman – who had returned a weak positive test result in Northland – had again tested positive for the virus in Auckland.
The woman is believed to have travelled around Northland including to Whangārei, Kamo, Paihia and Kawakawa, before returning to Auckland.
However, locations of interest are limited to two service stations as the woman had been “unco-operative” with authorities in determining her movements in the region, according to Hipkins.
The service stations are BP Connect Wylies in Woodhill (Saturday, October 2 from 11.20pm-12.20am) and Z Kensington (Monday, October 4 from 3.45pm-4.45pm).
It was also understood the Uretiti Beach DoC campsite south of Whangārei was another location of interest. This hadn’t been confirmed by Northland DHB or Ministry of Health yet.
In response, the Tai Tokerau Border Control group had established a checkpoint north of Whangārei at Waiomio and was turning away anyone not travelling for essential purposes.
There were suggestions another checkpoint would be erected near Kaeo, in the Whangaroa area. Mobile units may also be employed to restrict movement in the Far North.
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