Vaccination pleas as Covid-19 breaks boundaries again, with four cases across Rotorua and Tararua District
Rotorua’s mayor is issuing a plea for people to get vaccinated following news of two community cases of Covid-19 in her district.
Twelve police staff were also self-isolating after coming into contact with the two people during a call-out in Rotorua on Saturday.
The Ministry of Health also reported two other community cases in the Tararua district – east of Palmerston North – on Sunday morning, before the 1pm update.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said Covid-19’s appearance in Rotorua was inevitable.
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“We’ve had cases in the region all around us for a while and managed to avoid it but it is like a kick in the guts, it is a blow.
“I have been briefed by the [Lakes] DHB and the message is, please Rotorua, go out and get vaccinated because our numbers are too low.”
The Lakes District Health Board – which covers Rotorua and Taupō – has 72 per cent of its 146,524-strong population fully vaccinated, and 83 per cent have had their first doses.
“The DHB and Te Arawa are doing a sterling job but they can only get people who turn up and this will be a shock for everyone, if you are not vaccinated go and get vaccinated.
“If you are not feeling well, go and get tested.”
Police were told by Lakes DHB about 8pm on Saturday that two people they had come into contact with had tested positive for Covid-19.
Those staff had been tested and were awaiting the results.
Police said for privacy reasons, further information regarding the call-out would not be provided.
“They [police staff] are self-isolating as a precaution until results are received. Arrangements have been made to redeploy other staff to cover until these officers are able to return to work.”
Lakes DHB chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said there were only 12 ICU beds available if Covid-19 cases needed higher care, all in Rotorua.
“If we were above that 90 per cent vaccination mark I would be feeling more confident but with our current vaccination levels we just will not have enough resources in total.
“The biggest issue we have is nursing. We’ve had a huge amount of ongoing vacancies and our nurses have been under the pump for two years.”
Saville-Wood said if case numbers escalated, the DHB may have to look at pausing services without impacting on care, to redirect resources.
Using staff from the ministry and neighbouring DHBs was also an option.
Chadwick said a second testing station was being set up on Sunday. Over the next week she expected the council, DHB and Te Arawa would work together to up vaccination efforts.
“We are looking at being more innovative, going door-to-door to reach the right people.”
She would be guided by the ministry on whether Rotorua should move to a higher alert level.
Te Arawa Covid Hub project co-ordinator Karen Vercoe backed the mayor’s call for more people to get vaccinated.
“If you have been putting off getting your vaccination, please go and get it now, and encourage others around you.”
The Te Arawa Covid Hub drive-through vaccination clinic on Clayton Road, Rotorua, was open Sunday from 10am to 4pm, no booking needed.
Vaccinations would also be available at the Unichem Central Pharmacy and the Unichem Central Mall on Sunday, there was also a clinic in Kaingaroa.
The two Lakes District cases were detected after a person sought care at Rotorua Hospital for a non-Covid-19 health matter, and tested positive, the Ministry of Health said.
The person was put in a room for possible Covid-19 cases and therefore were not in contact with any other patients.
Two healthcare workers involved have also been tested and are now isolating.
The second case was a household contact of the first, and both were thought to be linked to cases in Auckland.
The two cases reported overnight in Tararua were being looked after by MidCentral DHB.
Both cases reported feeling unwell on November 12, sought prompt testing and were now self-isolating at home.
The cases were linked and the Public Health Unit was investigating any links between these cases and other known cases.
Contact tracing is underway for all four of these cases and locations of interest will be added to the Ministry of Health’s website.
Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said the region was prepared for the arrival of Covid-19 cases, and testing stations were open in Dannevirke, Pahīatua and Woodville.
Collis said social distancing and wearing masks had been generally good in the region, but its Covid-19 vaccination rates were behind nearby Palmerston North.
She said hopefully this was a good reminder, and anyone who hadn't yet had a vaccination went out and got one.
Collis added it was important anyone who had Covid-19 symptoms went and got tested at one of the region's testing stations.