Saturday, December 4

‘This community is amazing’ – Health service satisfied with Waikato tests

The first 200 test results of blocked northern Hauraki have tested negative for Covid-19 after hundreds of people queued up at the pop-up test sites yesterday.

A steady stream of people has been passing through a testing facility near Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames following the discovery of three Covid-19 cases in the area, outside the level 4 boundary.

A steady stream of cars turned up yesterday at the test center near Kaiaua.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

The area is on lockdown for five days, with three members of a local household contracting the coronavirus from a recently released Auckland prisoner who was rescued to the Firth of Thames home.

Health officials believe the man contracted the virus from one of three people who brought him to the house in Whakatīwai on September 8.

People who work, live, or have visited people in the lockdown area since September 8 should stay home and watch for symptoms.

On Monday, more than half of the people living in and around Mangatangi and Whakatīwai showed up at local marae to get swabs.

As of this morning, the 200 results obtained were all negative, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Te Korowai Hauora or Hauraki Maori Health Service Executive Director Riana Manuel estimated that 60 percent of the community was tested.

The Wharekawa Marae Pop-Up Test Center subjected 477 swabs and 78 tests were carried out at Mangatangi Marae.

“This community is amazing. They turned out, with their children, I must add, and the tamariki we saw yesterday were so brave and really ready to get their swab and make sure they keep their community safe.

“We really appreciate yesterday’s participation.”

People kept coming after the swabs for the day were collected and told to come back today.

A walk-in vaccination center was across the street from the testing center.

“We really want to be able to pressure people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.”

Of those 65 and older in the area, 88 percent have received the vaccine, while those under 30 have a lower rate so far.

“We will have to do some work in those spaces and of course most of our Maori population will sit in that age group.

Mobile and mobile vaccination facilities were the best way to reach that age group, he said.

“We have a mobile health clinic, it’s a vaccination center on wheels if you want it, and we go to each of the smaller communities every two weeks and we just keep vaccinating.”

A map of the northern Hauraki area covered by the

Photo: Supplied / Ministry of Health

Two of those who contracted the virus were children from Mangatangi School, and even before the announcement of the closure, the principal of Kaiaua School told students to stay home as a precaution.

The Mangatangi school was listed yesterday as a place of interest on September 15 and 16.

Kaiaua School principal Karlos Bosson said that 80 percent of his students do not have access to an online device, so most of the learning at home is done through printed resources.

“We made an urgent hard package last night … and we delivered them all to the different addresses around 6.30 last night.

“We have some requests from the ministry, so we hope they come in pretty quickly.”

He hoped that the test results would remain negative and that the region could return to level 2 quickly.

“Our community is desperate to get back to normal.”

Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams was disappointed that officials did not directly contact the exact limit of the blockade and more clarity on what the section 70 order would mean.

He said Morning reportl was frustrating after yesterday’s announcement that locals and the media asked him what areas were covered and not having the facts.

“As one of the leaders of a community … you think that you would be aware of a little information so that they give you advance notice so you can go out and tell your community everything you can.”

But once the community has the information, people get down to work and do what needs to be done. “Hopefully there isn’t much anguish today.”

Farmer Katie Hill, whose property is near Miranda, said daily work on the farm was not affected. “You wouldn’t know anything was different until you had to go out, and that doesn’t happen that often.”

But it was an embarrassment for the elementary school children, who had just returned to school, to have to stay home and some sports games were interrupted, he said.

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