Sunday, November 28

Covid-19: Only 7% are tested in Auckland’s suburbs of interest


After being featured as known Covid-19 hotspots with known groups and unrelated cases, how many people are being tested in Auckland’s seven ‘suburbs of interest’?

The Ōtara and Clover Park Covid test sites appeared to be nearly empty on Wednesday.  While the staff did not provide exact numbers, they said very few people came to get swabs.

The Ōtara and Clover Park Covid test sites appeared to be nearly empty on Wednesday. While the staff did not provide exact numbers, they said very few people came to get swabs.
Photo: DAVID BLANCO / THINGS

Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield announced 45 new community cases of Covid-19 in Auckland yesterday, with the city in its seventh week of closure.

However, on that day, the Ōtara and Clover Park Covid test sites appeared to be nearly empty. While the staff did not provide exact numbers, they said very few people came to get swabs.

The suburbs of interest are Clover Park, Māngere, Favona, Ōtara, Manurewa and Mt Wellington / Sylvia Park.

They are areas with known clusters and unrelated cases.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Region Health Coordination Center said it had screened 12,974 residents of Auckland’s suburbs of interest since last Monday, equivalent to 7 percent of the 183,729 people living in the areas.

“We are projecting a wide geographic network around the location of known groups and unrelated cases,” they said.

“We have established emerging testing centers in, or near, the suburbs of interest and have sent communications widely in those areas to encourage residents to attend the testing centers or their local GP or urgent care clinic.” .

The NRHCC spokeswoman said she could not provide a more detailed breakdown of how many people had been tested in each suburb, but said she had seen good turnout at her test centers in the areas of interest and was satisfied with the response. up to now. .

“People in these suburbs with or without symptoms are encouraged to get tested to help us have a level of assurance that there is no undetected spread of Covid-19 in the community.

“People who do not have symptoms and undergo a one-time Covid-19 test for surveillance purposes do not need to isolate themselves while waiting for the result. If you receive an invitation to be tested, even if you do not have symptoms, please get tested. “.

Epidemiologist professor Michael Baker said that in the last four weeks there have been low levels of transmission in South Auckland.

“And it seems to be quite difficult to implement public health measures in those underserved communities,” he said.

He said those areas often had people living in crowded conditions and higher levels of transitional and emergency housing.

Baker said that despite the latest spike in numbers in Auckland, it was too early to call it a trend.

“This is concerning, but it will take a couple of days to establish whether this is a new pattern for alert level 3,” he said.

Increasing door-to-door testing could be a more efficient way to get an accurate idea of ​​the transmission scale.

“This comes down to what the strategy is for testing in those suburbs. In general, we’ve used emerging testing to encourage people to come forward for testing,” Baker said. “I understand there has been a bit of door-to-door testing, but not a lot.”

On Tuesday of last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked all Clover Park residents to get tested for Covid-19, whether they are symptomatic or not.

Ardern said enough cases had been reported in the suburb to encourage officials to act.

Meanwhile, Mt Wellington / Sylvia Park was added to the list of suburbs of interest on Thursday of last week and all residents were also asked to get tested.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service endorsed by RNZ, the News Publishers Association, and NZ On Air.


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