Covid 19 coronavirus: Fears infections could be going undetected in Taranaki

There is one new Covid case in managed isolation today.

The new case arrived in New Zealand on July 22 and tested positive on day three of routine testing. Their full travel history is yet to be determined.

The Ministry of Health says daily wastewater sample from the New Plymouth treatment plant will continue for the next week after a positive result last week.

“Latest wastewater test results from a 24 hour period between Saturday and Sunday, from 6 sites, show no further virus has been detected,” the ministry said in today’s update.

Today’s update follows calls for wider testing for Covid-19 in waste water in Taranaki amid concerns of undetected community transmission.

The warning from local iwi Ngāti Ruanui to expand the testing beyond New Plymouth comes as the Ministry of Health updates details of infections in a statement at 1pm.

The South Taranaki iwi says it has serious concerns about the response from the Taranaki District Health Board to Covid being found in New Plymouth’s wastewater.

Ngāti Ruanui kaiwhakahaere (administrator) Rachel Rae said that given the population of Taranaki moves throughout the region it was extremely unsettling to find out that no other regional wastewater systems are being monitored for the virus.

“Why is Hāwera, Patea, Eltham and Stratford wastewater plants not monitored? We could have community transmission without having any monitoring. Is this a region of two halves?” said Rae.

The health board’s testing plan appeared to be made-up on the spot rather than being afundamental plan that should be in place and adequately resourced, she claimed.

Rae was also concerned that the already under pressure primary health and GP staff were being used to support the Covid testing centres.

Meanwhile, New Plymouth residents waiting for the remaining results from wastewater samples taken over a wider area should get answers today after two samples tested positive for Covid last week.

Yesterday the Ministry of Health was strongly encouraging anyone in Taranaki with Covid symptoms, or recent arrivals from Australia with or without symptoms who have recently visited Taranaki, to be tested.

Following two positive wastewater tests last week, all other results processed for New Plymouth from Friday, Saturday and some of Sunday have been negative.

“A total of 160 swabs were taken in New Plymouth yesterday. Around a quarter of these have been processed and returned negative results, the ministry said.

The remaining results are expected today.

Across the ditch, New South Wales is still grappling with rising Covid cases with 145 new cases reported yesterday. A man and woman, both in their 80s, also died from Covid-19 bringing the number of deaths linked to the city’s Delta outbreak to 10.

Other states are looking at easing their lockdowns. Victoria’s fifth lockdown will end at 11.59pm tonight with the 5km travel limit scrapped, schools returning to face-to-face learning, and hospitality, retailers and gyms reopening.

Under the new rules, restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs will be restricted by a density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm, as well as harsh patron caps being finalised tomorrow morning. Workers will be able to return to the office – at a maximum 25 per cent of capacity or 10 people, whichever is greater. Groups in public will be limited to only 10 people.

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