Thursday, December 9

Covid-19 testing capacity expanded in Waikato after two local cases


The Waikato District Board of Health is increasing testing capacity and expects two positive cases of Covid in the region to trigger a flood of vaccines.

Hand holding COVID-19 swab collection kit, sample sample testing process.

Photo: 123RF

The cases in Raglan and Hamilton East yesterday led the government to put part of the Waikato at alert level 3 from midnight last night.

Meanwhile, with the number of routes connecting the area making a rigid border impossible, locals say they will just have to trust that people will follow the rules.

At 1 p.m., at an unscheduled press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the rapid shutdown that would put the residents of Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton City back on alert level 3.

It also caused a run on the test stations that exceeded capacity and people were turned away from the Claudelands Event Center in the middle of the afternoon.

Waikato DHB leader for vaccination and testing, Maree Munro said that was not ideal.

“We’re never happy to turn people away, but it was unexpected, of course, and the response from people in our community who came out to get tested was fabulous in some ways, but we just didn’t have enough resources.”

Today the capacity there will double, and it will be open for 12 hours starting at 8 am, and other emerging test sites will also open in the region.

Munro said people with symptoms, who have been to a place of interest or have been contacted by health officials should come immediately. She asks others to stay behind for a day.

Munro said the scare had sparked a wave of people coming to get vaccinated, which he said was brilliant.

“We think it took a while for the people of Waikato to step up and get vaccinated.

“We really have to work hard to achieve those [goal] Vaccination rates of about 90 percent of which we are talking throughout the country. “

Seventy-one percent of Waikato’s eligible population has received a dose, while 42 percent are fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 78 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

Ardern said there will be random controls only around the Hamilton border areas.

Acting local mayor Aksel Bech said the road network meant there was no way a strict border could be enforced.

He doubted the locals would like to sneak down the country lanes and cross the border.

“I think particularly when it comes to cars, you know, with a jet ski or towing a boat or something like that … there will be very little tolerance.

“And I would really ask the community to adhere to the health advisory.”

Bech said the soft edge highlighted a new phase in the battle against Covid with an emphasis on trust.

Each lockdown hit the economy and they couldn’t last much longer, he said.

“We have to act as a community. We have to get vaccinated. We have to understand that Covid may well be hanging around for a while and we just can’t be doing lockdown after lockdown, we are experiencing compliance fatigue.”

Allan Crouch’s Waikato Farm is on the Level 2 side of the border.

He said that people in the area understood how dangerous Delta is and believed they would follow the rules.

“And I think yes, people will stay inside their bubbles.

“I know that at level 4 … and at level 3, when we are in those stages, the roads are really empty, people stay at home.

“So yeah, I think people will follow his guidelines and act accordingly.”

Federated Farmers Waikato President Jacqui Hahn actually expects more trafficking from rural people wanting to enter Hamilton to access essential services.

National Party leader Judith Collins said the latest outbreak could have been prevented were it not for the government’s border policy failures.

“If you’re going to let people cross those borders, where is the rapid antigen test before they cross it?”

“That is what should have been in place, that is what should have been in place, and yet it is still literally forbidden in this country.”

“It is outrageous”.

Ardern said that if the vaccination rate had reached 90 percent, the new Waikato lockdown could have been avoided.

Waikato must remain at Alert Level 3 for five days before being reassessed.

Where to get tested in Waikato

Visit Health Point for a list of all test centers or [www.waikatodhb.health.nz/cbac Waikato DHB website]. Some GP clinics are also running tests.

Raglan

– Raglan Rugby Grounds Car Park, Cross Street, Monday, October 4, 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Hamilton

– Founders Theater Parking Lot, Norton Rd, Hamilton CBD, 8:00 a.m. M. At 4:30 p. M.

– Claudelands Event Center, Claudelands, Hamilton. From 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. until further notice

Vaccination center locations can be found at the Book my vaccine website.


www.rnz.co.nz

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