National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says he’s not confident every place a Covid-19-positive person visited in Northland has been identified.
Speaking on Breakfast, Reti said the community needed to know as soon as possible where the woman who contracted the virus was tested.
“I’m concerned one of the facilities hasn’t been identified – where was the person tested?”
Reti said he was concerned a medical centre would be opening today, without knowing they had tested a Covid-19-positive person.
“All the community facilities were closed. She was tested on Friday.
“So, I presume she was tested at a medical centre, maybe? We don’t know. It’s not on the list of facilities.”
But, according to the Northland DHB’s website, only one community-based testing centre, located in Kamo, Whangārei, is open on Fridays.
The Ministry of Health’s website said the woman was in a Ruakākā pharmacy on Friday. It has not yet released further details about where else the woman had been on that day.
In response to Reti's claims, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said they had named the place the woman was tested at. However, a Ministry of Health spokesperson later told 1 NEWS they had not named the testing site on their website and were not planning to.
Reti said he was in Whangārei when the news broke yesterday afternoon.
He said the Northland community was feeling “a sense of disappointment” after the case was confirmed as being in the community.
They were also feeling a sense of determination, he said, but added “it’s a different determination to what I felt this time last year”.
“As we came into wave one last year, it was an upbeat determination. I’m sensing more of a resigned determination. And, I think there is some coronavirus fatigue.”
Reti said this fatigue was reflected in things like falling use of the Covid Tracer app.
He said a local business the woman had visited called him yesterday to say the Ministry of Health had not advised it to undertake deep cleaning.
“When did we change that policy? When did we decide we didn’t need to deep clean a coronavirus-positive person who enters a retail facility?”
1 NEWS has also put this question to the Ministry of Health.
In light of the community case, Reti said he wanted to see widespread surveillance through saliva testing. This test is considered less accurate than the standard nasal PCR test. But, it is less invasive.
Saliva testing was “much more user-acceptable” which could mean “a bigger pickup here in Northland if we were to introduce saliva testing”, Reti said.
He said surveillance was important given there were three possibilities as to how the case came about: a long incubation period - which was “really unlikely”, that the woman picked it up during her stay in managed isolation - which was more likely, or that the virus was already in the community.
Other measures to strengthen New Zealand’s border could include introducing three-day pre-departure quarantine and returnees spending one week at home self-isolating after exiting managed isolation, he said.
Reti said he also wanted to see rapid antigen testing in Northland to rapidly scope out how far the virus had spread.
Earlier this morning, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the first test results of two close contacts of the woman had come back negative.