Covid-19 Delta outbreak: New cases in Hamilton, Ōtorohanga, Christchurch – nervous wait for test results

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A child who has been attending school in Hamilton has tested positive for Covid.

Newstead Model Country School was told of the case last night.

Some students and staff who attended the school during alert level 3 are considered close contacts and have been told to isolate for 14 days.

The school has been operating a bubble system for students.

“The board of trustees have been notified, along with staff and the families of
students who are considered close contacts,” principal Meg Campbell said.

“This group are now being supported by the Ministry of Health team.”

Campbell said anyone who attended the school on Tuesday and was in the red bubble were considered closed contacts.

Those in the blue bubble were not considered close contacts and could continue attending school if they wished.

Meanwhile, it’s a nervous wait for Christchurch with at least two households caught up in the latest South Island community outbreak with more test results to come and a threat of restrictions looming large.

Officials are scrambling to retrace the footsteps of a Christchurch pair who have tested positive for Covid-19 overnight, with one of the couple feared infectious for up to a fortnight.

Christchurch’s mayor is in shock and the Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins is mulling over whether the Garden City needs to go into a snap lockdown as more details emerge of the infection involving a person who had recently arrived in Christchurch from Auckland. The South Island is currently at alert level 2.

Covid testing stations across the city are being overwhelmed as a public health risk assessment of the situation is under way with officials from the public health unit gathering information from the pair who were now “quite unwell”, after one member of the family who had been in the North Island spread the infection to the other.

It comes as Auckland health officials reveal nearly 300 people infected with Covid-19 are now in quarantine at home rather than in dedicated facilities as the outbreak continues to spread.

Neither of the sick pair are vaccinated and described as not “particularly good” users of the tracer app.

At this stage, health officials had pinpointed one other household as close contacts in the Garden City.

But officials were working to identify other close contacts and potential exposure events, including locations of interest with the situation expected to be updated at today’s 1pm press conference.

At lunchtime a long queue had formed at the Orchard Rd testing centre as worried Christchurch residents took advice to get tested.

This morning Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he could not rule out a snap lockdown in Christchurch, but officials were still waiting on more information before making that call.

He told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking the sick person had travelled from Auckland to Christchurch and had been back a week. They could have well been infectious in the community for “quite a portion of that period”, he said.

Hipkins said the initial case had travelled from Auckland to Christchurch with a childcare exemption and had tested negative before arriving in Christchurch.

He described infections outside the current alert levels as “worrying”.

It comes on the same day as government officials meet with primary principals in alert level 3 regions today to discuss the graduated return of children to class in mid-November and a major announcement about shortening stays in managed isolation for international travellers.

Meanwhile, a third person has tested positive in the small King Country town of Ōtorohanga after two cases at the weekend, linked to an outbreak in neighbouring Te Awamutu.

Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter confirmed the new case on social media this morning and urged people in the township to get tested.

Mayor's 'shock to the system'

This morning, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said like so many she woke to the dreadful turn of events.

“It was a bit of a shock to the system. It’s not the news I wanted to wake up and hear,” she said.

She hoped the two infected people hadn’t been out and about very much.

“Everything is going to come down to where the person and the other person have been over the last week.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed as I’m sure everyone else in Christchurch has.”

Dalziel said it was a reminder of just how contagious the virus was and the need to keep it contained to the one household.

“It is just a huge reminder to be incredibly vigilant about using QR codes, wearing masks and the significance of getting tested if you have any symptoms, no matter what.

“It’s going to be really important to get on top of this.”

To date, 89 per cent of Christchurch residents have had their first dose of the vaccine.

Hundreds quarantine in homes across Auckland

Health authorities today revealed there are now 288 sick people in quarantine at home across Auckland as the region moves to a new way of handling the growing Covid-19 caseload.

The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre said under the new isolation model people who test positive would be allowed to isolate at home when they had been assessed as safe to do so by a Medical Officer of Health, and their home situation deemed appropriate.

“As Auckland transitions from an elimination approach to Covid-19 to a suppression strategy, it is important to establish low-risk ways to create higher capacity for isolation,” said Counties Manukau Health chief executive Fepulea’i Margie Ap.

They would receive tele-health check-ins by staff at Healthline and all households would receive a pulse oximeter device with instructions on how to use it to help with monitoring health.

Quarantine facilities would still operate with sick people referred from MIQ discharged back to the facility, along with patients who were assessed as not suitable for home isolation, or not wanting to isolate at home.

Christchurch race day concerns

Christchurch is just weeks away from its biggest racing events of the year at Addington and Riccarton Raceways.

Addington racing industry manager Darrin Williams said if Christchurch was to move to alert level 3, the racing events would have to run behind closed doors.

Not even the owners will be allowed on-site, just the participants.

Williams said the only thing that would cause them not to race is if the city went into a level 4 lockdown.

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