Wellington’s Covid scare has highlighted the need to use the Covid Tracer app, but scanning numbers have plummeted since last year.
A visitor from Sydney has tested positive for the virus after visiting Wellington over the weekend. He checked into multiple eateries and tourist hot spots around the city, but at the time he was in the capital, there were on average just 432,000 scans daily across the country.
Use of the app peaked following Auckland's August cluster last year, with more than 2.5 million scans. But since then, Kiwis have not been as vigilant. Auckland's lockdown in February saw a height of 1,850,000 scans.
Some in the capital today who spoke to 1 NEWS had been scanning vigilantly for months, while others said they’d only just started using the app again today after a break of several weeks or months.
Visitor Denae McCready says the news of a positive case in Wellington is “a good reminder”.
“I haven’t been scanning in as much as I’d like to, it’s a good reminder to keep doing that and that we can’t be complacent.”
Some Wellington business owners said only about half their customers or less scanned in.
Slow Boat Records owner Jeremy Taylor said he’d like to see customers be much more vigilant.
“Ever since Wellington has been back at Level 2 nearly a year ago now there is a degree of complacency that’s crept in. It would be good to see people really redouble their efforts.”
Babylon Kebabs manager Sandi Buttros says she feels she can’t force people to scan in, but the complacency does make her worried about her business.“It is a family business, everyone that works here is family.
If people don't scan in and something does happen we're all in jeopardy. If one of us gets sick the whole family is sick and we have to shut down the place. It is a bit worrisome.”
University of Auckland researcher Andrew Chen says New Zealand’s Covid Tracer app has a “stable base” of regular users, but the scanning figures need to be much higher.
“About 44% of adult population is using the app which is encouraging, but less than 10% are using the QR codes at the moment. That's definitely not enough to give us confidence that we'd be able to catch an outbreak anywhere in the country… we need to have 60%-80% of population doing it."
Australian holidaymakers landing in the capital from Melbourne said they were told about the Covid Tracer app on the plane, but only some of their compatriots visiting Queenstown this afternoon were using it.
David from Sydney said he was finding the app easy to use, and was used to scanning in, but Rosa from Perth said she hadn’t been scanning in at all.
“I should be, I'm not...too lazy I suppose” she said.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the Government did consider requiring tourists to download the app on arrival but at the moment it's not mandatory for anyone.
“People are given information about the need to and the value of using the app when they come here. Most importantly they are required to provide contact information for where they'll be while they're in New Zealand”
The recently confirmed case travelled from Sydney to Wellington and back again. The man and his partner arrived just after midnight on Saturday before flying back to Sydney just after 10am on Monday morning, NSW Health confirmed yesterday evening.
The man subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 in New South Wales. The Wellington region went into Covid-19 Alert Level 2 at 6pm tonight, which will last until 11.59pm Sunday. The rest of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 1.
Locations of interest linked to the case have risen from six to 14 over the course of today.