Hawke's Bay District Health Board has activated its full-scale Covid-19 emergency response structure, with virus detections in neighbouring territories to the northwest and south.
Chief executive Keriana Brooking said while Hawke's Bay was yet to return any positive Covid-19 test results, it was only a matter of time before Covid-19 reached the region, with positive detections announced in neighbouring Lakes and Tararua districts over the weekend.
"Covid-19 and the highly infectious Delta variant has continued to make its way south of Auckland, with cases now on either side of our region in the Lakes and Tararua districts.
"This is now very close to home as places such as Rotorua, Taupō, Dannevirke, Woodville, Pahiatua or Fielding are places where Hawke's Bay people travel to and from regularly."
The two cases believed to be from Woodville had been linked back to the Waikato cluster, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Monday.
The cases remain in isolation in the same household.
Brooking said it was possible there were "undetected cases", though no positive cases had been confirmed for Hawke's Bay.
"Our region now needs to respond as if we have Covid-19 in our community," she said.
Brooking said activating the DHB's full-scale structure meant systems for a whole-of-community response were standing up to support managing future cases.
"As a region, we came together during the 2020 outbreak with health and disability providers, emergency services, welfare supports, iwi, councils and community leaders working together to look after our people.
"Welfare is a vital response function during a pandemic, particularly if people need to remain in isolation and require wraparound health and food supports, so this work is now being revisited so teams are ready to go."
Brooking said Hawke's Bay health system's pandemic planning was "robust" and would now "go up another gear".
"Our primary health, iwi and hauora providers have been out there doing the mahi alongside the DHB throughout this pandemic both with testing and the vaccination rollout."
More drive-in Covid-19 testing clinics would be set up around the region, with multiple opportunities for no-appointment testing today in Marewa, Takapau and Waipukurau, complemented by booking capacity across all testing sites across the region.
The vaccination rollout will continue its momentum and Hawke's Bay Hospital is ready to mobilise to care for Covid-19 patients, should it need to, Brooking said.
It's important that you get tested, even if you are fully vaccinated, as vaccinated people can get mild illness.
Please get tested if:
- You are feeling unwell with cold or flu symptoms, no matter how mild the symptoms.
- You are feeling unwell and have recently travelled to Taupo, Rotorua, Woodville, Pahiatua, Fielding or Dannevirke.
- You have travelled to an Alert Level 3 region recently (within the past 14 days). Please get tested, even if you don't have symptoms.
Where do I get tested?
Drive-in no-appointment testing today, November 15, at:
- St Marks Church in Takapau Central Hawkes Bay between 11am and 4pm
- Pukemokimoki Marae Riverbend Road in Napier, 11am-4pm
- Central Hawkes Bay Health Centre between 9am and 5pm
People can also call ahead to book a test in Hastings, Napier, Central Hawke's Bay and Wairoa.
- Napier: 06 650 4000
- Hastings: 06 281 2644
- Wairoa: 06 838 8333
- Central Hawke's Bay residents should call their doctor or Healthline: 0800 358 5453.
Tuesday marks the first day of a wide-ranging vaccine mandate.
The mandate requires that certain roles in health and disability, education and corrections must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with their first vaccine received by November 16.
As of November 8 more than 200 staff at Hawke's Bay District Health Board remained unvaccinated, with final numbers unknown as this afternoon.
National President of the New Zealand Principals' Federation and Hastings Intermediate principal Perry Rush said it was still unclear what the impact would be on Hawke's Bay schools.
He said most small schools had one to two ancillary or teaching staff who were unwilling to be vaccinated and larger schools might have a few more.
"The education workforce is large. Reflecting the high rate of community vaccination, most staff in the education workforce have complied with the Health Order.
"However, NZPF notes the greatest impact of non-compliant staff is in rural, remote and small schools where it is difficult to find relieving and replacement staff."
He said the number of those unwilling to be vaccinated was small compared to those who were.
The Government's provision of the viral vector vaccine in AstraZeneca would help reduce this further, he added.
Rush said schools had been working with their staff over the past few weeks to encourage vaccination and identify staff unwilling to get vaccinated.
"Schools have been planning for such an eventuality and are encouraged to contact their regional Director of Education should urgent support is needed."