Saturday, November 27

Ngāpuhi Covid-19 Response Group Supports Rapid Lockdown in Far North

Residents of the Far North are waking up to increased Covid-19 restrictions.

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Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The emergence of two cases in Taipā municipality that cannot be linked to existing cases led the government to move the area from level 2 to level 3 overnight.

The blockade will be in effect until at least Monday, when it will be reviewed by the Cabinet.

TO the limit is in place, which runs from the port of Hokianga on the West Coast, to the Mangamuka Junction on State Highway 1 to the Kaeo River Bridge on State Highway 10 and East Bay on the East Coast.

There will be a police presence in places along the boundary, but it will not be a strict boundary like the one around Auckland.

Northland is one of the worst performing regions on vaccinations, with 79 percent of eligible people receiving a dose and 65 percent fully vaccinated.

“These rates are not yet high enough for us to be sure that communities would be sufficiently protected in the event of a broader outbreak,” said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

Ngāpuhi Covid-19 Response Leader Tia Ashby said a quick lockdown was the right move.

“With the number of cases that were appearing [in the wider Northland region], we expected them to enter alert level 3 earlier, just because we know that less mobility in the region will allow the public health team to identify and isolate cases faster, “he said.

Vaccination rates were cause for concern, Ashby said, but he hoped this time in the confinement it could be used wisely.

“If we look at our goal of wanting to get 90 percent vaccinated, then we will take this opportunity to do everything we can in the hope that whānau gets vaccinated.”

The chairman of the Ngāti Kuri Trust’s board of directors, Harry Burkhardt, said that when there was a clear and present risk, vaccination rates rose.

“That is talking to people who are undecided. We know that there will always be work around people who choose not to, however we only know from a community perspective, the highest level of vaccination is the best way to support our community safe. “

The talks must continue with the whānau who continue to resist, Burkhardt said.

“We take the position of respecting where the whānau land around vaccination or non-vaccination, we have to support them, but our request is, can we have a conversation so that you at least have the facts in front of you? You can make an informed decision “.

The Awanui Hotel is one of the four attractions associated with the cases.

Publican Eddie Bellas said they closed the business Monday when word spread that one of the cases happened Sunday night.

“We closed the pub and started cleaning and only notified the community why we were closed, just as a precaution until we found more information.”

Yesterday morning the official news came from the Ministry of Health.

Bellas said they have had a lot of support from the community.

“The locals love the place and visit it regularly so it is quite overwhelming and it is a huge shock to the community and a huge shock to us at the Awanui Hotel which is so close to home.”

The official advice is that anyone who has been to the Awanui Hotel on Sunday between 5.30pm and 7.30pm should stay home and get tested immediately.

They should have a second test on Friday and continue to isolate until they get a negative result.

People who were at Farmers Kaitaia, Bells Produce and Manaaki at 25 Cafe at the relevant times should monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

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