Kaipara mayor concerned about lack of Covid-19 community testing after Northland case

The mayor of Kaipara District in Northland says he’s concerned it may be too difficult for some members of his community to get to a pop-up testing centre, after a Covid-19 case was reported in Northland yesterday.

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Jason Smith’s comments come after a woman who has the virus visited businesses in the district. Source: Breakfast

Kaipara District Mayor Jason Smith told Breakfast his community was “anxious” because of the “large area” potentially affected, including Ruakaka, Whangārei and Helensville.

The Ministry of Health yesterday began releasing a list of about 30 locations the woman had visited from January 14 to 22.

Smith said he worried the pop-up centres set up until Wednesday in the Mangawhai Domain and in Parakai near Helensville would be too far for some.

“Looking at the locations where the affected case travelled, quite simply, those testing sites are a long way away,” he said.

“That’s a long distance to get to a testing centre for a community, many of whom are elderly.”

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The list includes cafes, restaurants and shops in Whangārei, Ruakaka and Helensville. Source: Breakfast

It comes as the Ministry of Health confirmed it was investigating a case involving a woman who tested positive for Covid-19 in the Northland community yesterday afternoon.

The 56-year-old woman completed a 14-day stay in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland on January 13, after travelling back to New Zealand from Europe.

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Smith said the woman was an “absolute legend” for being meticulous with her use of the Covid Tracer app and its Bluetooth function.

He said the case presented a “major opportunity” to try the less-invasive saliva testing method, because he was confident everyone in his community would be likely to get a test if it weren’t as invasive as a nasal swab.

“They’ve got a perfect test case to do that. These communities are small,” he said.

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Smith added: “There are real concerns in Northland and right across the motu … regarding keeping our kaumatua and kuia safe from the pandemic.

"And, so again, good testing regimes and very clear locations where those pop-up testing centres are is the best way.”