Delta has made its way to the small township of Stratford in Taranaki, according to Ngāti Ruanui.
“We were notified last night of a strong positive Covid-19 wastewater test result, indicating the detection of the virus in the wastewater system of Stratford,” said the iwi kaiwhakahaere Rachel Rae.
“We have been informed that the sample was taken on Monday 1st of November.”
“It’s hugely important that we connect the dots between the wastewater result and the source. Today, we will be standing up our mobile unit in Stratford where we will test and have the capacity to vaccinate.”
Taranaki has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 68 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, and 85 per cent with a first dose.
Those rates are much lower for Māori – 48 per cent with two doses, and 69 per cent for one dose.
The Taranaki DHB has previously been singled out by the Government as performing poorly in terms of working with Māori health providers.
Te Pati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who is based in Te Tai Hauāuru, has also been critical of the DHB, saying that a mobile vaccination clinic was only provided following persistent media scrutiny.
“Our mobile units will be open from 9:30am, where we encourage anyone who is symptomatic and/or been out of the region to seek a test,” Ngarewa-Packer said.
“We also encourage whānau to please be vaccinated. The longer we take to identify the source, the longer a potential outbreak has, to get out of control.”
Rae said ESR would be conducting a second wastewater test today.
“The real concern here is that there is a high possibility that the wastewater result means that there is undetected community transmission. In such an isolated community, this could indicate wider spread throughout the region if the source made stops in New Plymouth for example,” Rae said.
Rae said that the Ministry of Health was “urgently scrambling” to see if a recent MIQ returnee travelled to Stratford after being released.
The ministry has been approached for comment.
Auckland family in home isolation with Covid case
An Auckland family in home isolation after one of their bubble tested positive for Covid-19 say they have been waiting over a week to speak to a clinician on the phone.
A member of the family, a PhD student who has asked to remain anonymous, said they had not left the house since her sibling first tested positive for Covid-19 on October 25.
The four other members of the household, who were all fully vaccinated, have since returned two negative tests.
Last Thursday they were told a clinician would be in touch with the positive sibling soon to discuss a possible discharge.
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But, despite being contacted for a health check on Sunday, and being symptom-free since at least that time, they were still waiting for this to happen at 6pm on Thursday.
The relative said it is believed to be about be day 20 since the sibling case was first infected, based on the information they had been provided by officials.
They had been told by several Ministry of health officials that their 14 days isolation would not begin until they recovered.
“On day one we were told that once the person was discharged our 14 days of isolation would start but that was likely to be soon, because they were towards the end of their cycle.”
“Now that we’re in the second week and they have not been discharged, nor spoken with a clinician that could discharge them, we’re realising this could be indefinite.”
The student said the uncertainty was “suffocating” and putting “intense pressure” on the family – particularly for the sibling, who had an anxiety disorder and depression.
“We can’t focus on our work, I can’t focus on my PhD.”
“I’ve just been speaking to my supervisor about whether I should suspend because it’s just impossible to focus when so much of our time is spent on phone calls, trying to get some kind of answer.”
“We’ve spent the week calling them and being moved from one person to another, and nobody has the authority to tell us anything about our case.”
Speaking on Breakfast this morning, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said positive Covid cases isolating at home were contacted daily.
He said those isolating at home had daily contact with officials, either by email or phone call. There was also “face to face” contact for some, if they required it.
The PhD student said this had not been their experience of home isolation.
“I wish we had the experience of a Covid-positive person having daily checks, because that’s how it should be.”
The family say they have spent between two and three hours on the phone yesterday to the Ministry of Health – mostly on hold.
While the sibling had been contacted on Sunday for a health check that was not a clinician.
The other four members of the household have been contacted daily since Sunday, but those calls also weren’t from a clinician, or anyone that could answer their questions.
“They ask us if we have a sore throat, if we have a cough or if we’ve been out of the house without a mask,” said the student.
“They only want to know answers to the set questions. They don’t ask us about the mental health experience … it seems like they’re just reading off a list. “
The student said the family did not have direct contact with anyone in charge of their case, and had to continue to ring the Covid hotline for the general public.
Home isolation had been triggering and damaging for the mental health of the sibling.
“They have known from day one that the person who is Covid positive has an intense anxiety disorder and depressive issues.”
“They have been offered no mental health support but we have been advised to keep them in their bedroom.”
“So they have been shut in his bedroom for a week until we decided that we had to let them out.”
“You can’t manage that for long periods of time, it’s really triggering for someone with anxiety.”
A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed a positive person must isolate until they are determined to have been “recovered” by a medical professional.
“In some cases, this is a minimum of 14 days and at least 72 hours symptom-free.”
“If there are other cases in the household, the recovered case does not need to isolate until the last case in the household has recovered.”
The spokesperson said public health assessments were undertaken to determine whether a positive case could isolate at home.
“This is then followed by a medical assessment of their clinical needs and any medical conditions they may have. If people need hospital-level care, it is arranged for them.”
“Over the period of required isolation, there are regular checks undertaken through a mixture of phone calls, in-person visits and emails.
“Individuals with Covid-19 are also given a pulse oximeter to help monitor their health.”
“All positive cases have access to a dedicated, free 24/7 Healthline service, and are told to call 111 if they need urgent medical attention or are having issues breathing.”
The Ministry of health did not provide any information on checks related to mental health.
Government shouldn't play Santa – National
National Party’s justice spokesman, Simon Bridges told Three’s AM Show that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Government should not be playing Santa.
New Zealanders need to know what is happening in regards to the border before Christmas.
Bridges said he has heard speculations that Ardern may be leaving her post at some point.
But Labour’s David Parker believed she would continue on to the next election – and would win.
Sir Ian Taylor more comfortable in Los Angeles
Speaking from Los Angeles, Sir Ian Taylor told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that he felt more comfortable over there than in Auckland.
“It’s been really great, an eyeopener.Just to start off, I have actually felt safer in terms of LA and San Francisco than I did passing through Auckland.
“One of things that’s really standing out for me now that I look back to where we are in NZ, the whole thing seems to be surrounded by a sense of fear. Up here they have kind of accepted that you have to move on. Now that you know that Covid is around, you wear your mask, you wash your hands. I’m doing more of that now than i did back in New Zealand.”
Tomorrow he is due to have a meeting with a leading American graphics company, but to get in he has to show a negative Covid test.
When he went to Fox Studies this week he also had to show a negative test and wear a mask the whole time if sitting inside.
“When I went to Fox, you had to have a mask, show a negative test and if you didn’t have one you got tested at the gate before you went in and inside wear masks the whole time so we sat outside and had our meeting outside.
“I came here thinking this place was reckless, but they are more careful than we are.”
He said the big focus in the United States appeared to be on self-responsibility.
“I think the big focus up here is self-responsibility. They have a vaccination rate of 60 per cent. What I found is that if you want to have a test..I just had an antigen test in my hotel room half an hour ago, and I’m negative.
“You’re doing these things all the time, it’s just a different approach.”
And Auckland University Law Professor Bill Hodge also spoke to Mike Hosking this morning.
On a High Court decision for the Government to reconsider a decision to decline Auckland rich lister Murray Bolton’s request to isolate at home on his return from the US – where he plans to fly in his private jet – Hodge said it was a tremendously significant decision.
“So far, the courts have generally been upholding the Government’s approach,” he said.
“But this is the weak link in the Government’s struggle with Covid – I think MIQ, many people thought of it as broken from the beginning.”
Hodge said Bolton’s taking on MBIE was doing the rest of us a great service.
Hodge said if the Government came back and declined Bolton again, it would be a loss for the rest of the public also.
He acknowledged that Bolton had provided a great case and had presented a special case. Bolton was also double vaccinated.
“Remember, he’s going to travel in a private jet,” he laughed.
“I don’t think most of us are going to hop over to Sydney on a private jet.”
Asked what might worry the Government more – Bolton’s case or a petition?
“I think both things are happening. I think the public have had enough of MIQ and I think MIQ is very close to being broken.”
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