As Covid-19 finally arrives in Tauranga, the city’s council commission chair Anne Tolley knows just how serious it is – the virus killed her brother-in-law.
Tolley spoke to Stuff in the wake of confirmation Covid-19 has entered the Bay of Plenty with two new cases in Tauranga, prompting her warning about the seriousness of the virus.
Tolley said it claimed the life of her brother-in-law in the United Kingdom, and she hoped its arrival would be a wake-up call for those yet to be vaccinated.
“A dreadful disease,” she said.
How vaccination helps prevent the spread of Covid-19
She also warned “a bit of complacency” had crept in around Covid-19, simply because the region hadn’t seen it.
“The minute we got it in the wastewater last week, I knew the writing was on the wall,” she said.
“The other concern, if we’re not up with our vaccinations we’ll stay at that alert level red light, that restricts businesses.”
The Ministry of Health reported two cases in Tauranga on Thursday: in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga.
As the Tauranga case came in after the official 9am cut-off time for reporting, it will be formally included in Friday’s figures, the ministry said.
Interviews are continuing to determine case movements. Any locations of interest will be added to the Ministry’s website as these are identified.
There were also 17 new cases in the Waikato DHB area.
Tolley said the vaccine levels were a concern ahead of Auckland opening its borders, with the likelihood visitors from the City of Sails would be heading to Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty.
National Tauranga MP Simon Bridges echoed Tolley’s comments, using a social media post to describe Covid’s arrival as “inevitable”.
While Covid’s arrival was expected, “it will still be concerning to locals”, Bridges said.
“Those with symptoms should get tested, and those who aren’t yet should get vaccinated,” Bridges said.
A positive case was also confirmed in Thames, in the Waikato, on Thursday and has been in contact with Public Health staff. A pop-up testing site is operating in Thames at Rhodes Park from 1-5pm.
The advice to test and vaccinate was echoed by Toi Te Ora Public Health, which said the positive cases followed on from positive detection in wastewater samples taken from Tauranga and Mount Maunganui earlier this week.
Medical Officer of Health at Toi Te Ora, Dr Bruce Duncan, said people should get tested even if they had mild symptoms.
He also said the rapid increase in cases in the region was a timely reminder for people to get their Covid-19 vaccination.
“Vaccination is the best way to keep yourself, your loved ones and the community safe from the virus. If you haven’t already had your vaccination, now is the time to get it.”
In the Waikato, 17 new cases were reported on Thursday, and 17 new locations of interest confirmed across Ōtorohanga, Te Awamutu, Te Kūiti, and Hamilton.
There are also three cases receiving care at Waikato Hospital.
A number of these cases were only confirmed on Thursday morning, therefore data on location and contact tracing information is still being gathered by public health staff.
However, one was in Thames.
The Ministry continues to urge people in Waikato to check the Ministry’s locations of interest page, for details about locations if, and when, they are identified.
There are eight pop-up and dedicated testing centres operating on Thursday at Hamilton, Ōtorohanga, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Te Kūiti and Thames.
There were 3055 tests processed in Waikato on Wednesday and 1992 vaccinations given.
In the Waikato region, public health staff are supporting 290 people to isolate at home, including 81 cases and 209 contacts.
In Tauranga, everyone who lives in or has travelled to the region is asked to monitor locations of interest regularly and follow any advice given, the ministry said.
“Anyone with Covid-19 related symptoms is asked to get tested as soon as possible – even if the symptoms are mild.”
Testing sites are set up at the Mount Maunganui Sports Centre, Tauranga central – 100 First Ave, Tauranga Race Course, Accident & Healthcare, Whakatāne – Med Central Portacom and in Murupara on Koromiko St.
Testing is also available in Rotorua and Taupō. Details can be checked at the Healthpoint website.
A case announced in Lakes DHB on Wednesday is officially reported in Thursday’s figures.