Auckland should remain at alert level 4 and Waikato should also go into lockdown after three new cases were identified in the region, says the Maori National Pandemic Group.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce this afternoon whether Auckland will move to Level 3 starting at midnight tomorrow, as the Cabinet noted last week.
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā co-leader Dr. Sue Crengle said the group believed Auckland should remain at level 4 beyond tomorrow and Waikato should join after three cases were confirmed last night in the Waikato region. .
The Health Ministry said in a statement that the new cases are domestic contacts of a remand prisoner, who was released on electronically monitored bail to a Kaiaua / Whakatîwai address on the Firth of Thames on September 8. He remained at the property where nine other people live, until police were informed. He tested positive after returning to Mt Eden Prison in Auckland.
The ministry confirmed the three positive cases last night, saying that five other members of the household had been tested and the ninth would be tested today.
Two of the positive cases attend Mangatangi school in the Hauraki Plains and at least one of them was symptomatic at the school on Thursday, the ministry said.
Mangatangi is just south of Kaiaua / Whakatīwai, all of which are north of Waikato, and run along the border with Auckland.
Crengle said serious restrictions are needed until the extent of the outbreak in the Waikato area is known.
“We know that Maori communities are at a higher risk of contracting Covid and hospitalizations and we believe that deaths also if they get sick with Covid, and at the moment we do not know the scope of the outbreak in Waikato, that will only occur it will become evident in the next few days. , a couple of weeks, and there are a lot of Maori communities in the upper part of the North Island and we want to make sure they are protected as much as possible. “
The vaccination program did not yet offer equitable rates for Maori, leaving Maori more vulnerable to the disease, Crengle said.
“We have serious concerns that the upper part of the North Island could be on the brink of a new wave of Covid-19, which if allowed to spread would seriously affect Maori communities in the region.”
Level 4 was the best option to protect everyone, including non-Maori, he said.
While it is not yet clear if more people in Waikato have contracted the virus, what is clear is that “Delta can move very fast,” Crengle said.
The ministry said arrangements are being made for Mangatangi school students and their families to be tested. The school has a roster of about 100 students.
A pop-up testing center will also be established today at Wharekawa Marae in Whakatīwai and the ministry is encouraging locals with symptoms to get tested.
Te Korowai Hauora or Hauraki runs the center and Executive Director Riana Manuel, a registered nurse, will be there to help.
Manuel said that people will be anxious about local cases and that he expects hundreds of people to get tested today.
“So that’s the best we can do at this stage and really find out if there are other cases and where exactly are they,” he said.
The latest outbreak in New Zealand, and these recent cases, showed that children were increasingly becoming part of the infected group, he said.
“This is the nature of Delta. It is the nature of Covid. This time last year we thought it was about protecting the really elderly, the chronically ill, and now we know that everyone is targeted by this. virus and the best we can do is vaccinate as many of our population as possible. “
Manuel said she was always concerned that the outbreak could reach her community as “there are two degrees of separation between us and Auckland at all times.”
“Our community is small, it is isolated, it is geographically diverse, these are the kinds of problems,” he said.
“I always feel a bit anxious and nervous for our communities, but at the same time I know we have an excellent team … we will get everyone cleaned up as soon as possible.”