Saturday, November 27

Request Covid-19 tests before departure to travel to the South Island

A Covid-19 modeler believes the government should require that those traveling to the South Island provide a negative test result first.

The Aratere ferry on the Tory Channel near Picton.

Photo: LC Mortensen CCBY-SA 4

The upper South Island has had a working weekend scare with a case of Covid-19 imported from North Island shopping in Blenheim on Friday.

The unvaccinated person flew in from Rotorua and has ties to Te Awamutu in Waikato, where there have been around a dozen community cases recently.

Before testing positive, the person went to a couple of Blenheim supermarkets, a pharmacy, a bakery, and a Miter 10.

But so far there has been no further transmission, with three of the person’s contacts coming back negative, and the same for the hundreds of community tests conducted over the weekend.

This was a relief to Marlborough District Mayor John Leggett.

“Cautious optimism. People have said we’ve dodged a bullet, well, I think the bullet has been working for quite some time, and we just have to do what we can … to keep it out of the South Island for as long as we can, “Leggett said.

He said it showed how easily a case can jump the Cook Strait, and some mainland residents wonder why there weren’t more border barriers to prevent it from happening.

“People would be asking that question, and certainly several people have suggested to me that we should have a much stricter border control.”

Covid-19 modeler and physicist Dr. Dion O’Neale said that a case in the South Island could spread undetected more easily than in the North.

“We have seen that their test rates are slightly lower than the rest of the country, and they are possibly a little less alert,” O’Neale said.

“At alert level 2, you can do most of the day-to-day things – you can meet a lot of people, and that puts you in an environment where, if someone is highly infectious, it could spread quickly to many people. from the people.”

He said not having a firm border outside of Waikato left the possibility of cases leaking, and the need for a negative test to get out should be considered.

“That is perhaps something the government would want to be thinking about – what requirements would they want to have for people leaving the Waikato region? Or possibly even as the Waikato outbreak spreads further across the North Island, leaving the North Island in areas that are currently Covid-free or mostly Covid-free, such as the South Island? “

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said this is where rapid antigen tests can come in handy, with results in as little as 15 minutes.

“Because you can do it when, for example, you cross a border or get on a train. The other side of that is that they are not 100% accurate. Nothing is a guarantee, but the more things we put in place, the more chances you have of minimizing the transfer of the virus to the South Island “.

The Health Ministry continues to urge people in the Marlborough, Tasman and Nelson areas to get tested if they have any symptoms, even if they are vaccinated.

The person who flew to Blenheim also stayed in a private home in Tokoroa before leaving, so people are asked to keep an eye out for the sights they have visited and if so, take a test. .

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