Saturday, November 27

Covid-19: More tests are needed in Tairāwhiti, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay


People in Gisborne, Stratford and Napier are still being urged to get tested for Covid-19, after the virus was detected in sewage samples last week.

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Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

While the health boards of the Tairāwhiti, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay districts have had a higher than usual number of people come in for swabbing, they say this should continue for the next few days.

So far, no cases of Covid-19 have been found, but healthcare providers in those regions said it was too early to say for sure they were out of the woods.

Ngaruahine Iwi Health Service General Manager Warren Nicholls said there was a steady stream of cars showing up for testing in Stratford over the weekend.

Since Friday, more than 1000 swabs have been taken around Taranaki.

But Nicholls said more evidence was needed.

“There are still too many unknowns and until we can be more definitive about the source of this Covid, we just have to keep our efforts high.”

Sewage screening proved to be the motivation for some people to get vaccinated, Nicholls said.

Many of those who showed up for their first or second dose over the weekend had not objected to getting vaccinated, they just hadn’t.

“But this gave a real sense that the stakes are actually high, we could have infiltration at any stage here or across the country, and in fact the only way to really protect ourselves is to be prepared,” Nicholls said.

It was a similar story in Tairāwhiti.

Turanga Health Executive Director Reweti Ropiha said that after the positive sewage test came back, they quickly set up a vaccination center in the city center to operate for the weekend.

During the two days, about 400 people received a dose.

“Getting the voice of the gamblers, most of them, was the wake-up call. They were practically all ready for the vaccine.”

Ropiha said their focus is on specific neighborhoods and workplaces as they try to increase vaccination rates in the region.

They are trying to give people as much information as possible to get them to cross the line.

There were people who were unlikely to change their minds, Ropiha said, but others just needed a little more security or education.

“There is an audience there that once we connect and we can bridge that information gap or we are visible and we are present, they are ready for vaccination,” he said.

Eighty percent of the people in Tairāwhiti have received their first dose, while two-thirds are fully vaccinated.

That figure is lower for Maori, with 71 percent receiving the first dose and 54 percent the second.

In Taranaki, 86 percent have received their first dose and 70 percent are fully vaccinated.

For the Maori, the figures are similar to those of Tairāwhiti.

Meanwhile, in Hawke’s Bay, there were more routine tests over the weekend, but the district health board wants more people to be swabbed.

About 3,000 people in the region were vaccinated over the weekend.

In Hawke’s Bay, 86 percent of people have received their first dose and 74 percent have received their second.

For the Maori, 70 percent have had their first and 52 percent the second.

More Napier wastewater test results are expected in the coming days. Samples collected at Hastings and Wairoa have been negative.

People in Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki are urged to get tested for Covid-19 if they have any symptoms, no matter how mild or if they are vaccinated.


www.rnz.co.nz

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