Even though we are bound to sit at home for a little while longer, many Northlanders believe the Government's decision to extend the alert level 4 lockdown until 11.59pm on Monday, was the right call.
Extended community testing – specifically targeted at rural communities with a high population of Māori – shall now give Northland more confidence in preparation for next week's alert level 3.
Dr Catherine Jackson, Northland District Health Board's Medical Officer of Health, said nine Māori health providers would reach into the smaller communities via mobile services.
"The providers have well-established relationships with their communities and whānau, experienced staff and established mobile health services," Jackson said.
Altogether 2302 of the 3073 Covid-19 tests in Northland have been carried out by community based testing centres.
"Although testing rates for Māori are higher than for non-Māori across all parts of Te Tai Tokerau, there are still some areas where access is harder due to the remote location."
Jackson said concerns had been raised particularly for kaumātua and kuia who are reluctant to come out of their bubbles and communities because they were worried about putting themselves at risk.
Next to Covid-19 testing, the new mobile services will provide influenza vaccines and general health and wellbeing checks.
The existing seven Community Based Testing Centres in Kaitāia, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kawakawa, Rawene, Dargaville and Whangārei remain open seven days a week.
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With increased community testing and the numbers of new infections remaining low – the Ministry of Health yesterday reported five new cases outside of Northland and one death – many believe the Government's course of action is right, even though they look forward to breathing more fresh air soon.
Jasmine Simpson from Kamo says despite having felt the effects of Covid-19 in many different ways, she was glad to hear that the Prime Minister is "careful and vigilant".
Simpson works as an English tutor and student support adviser for the University of Auckland Campus and had to track down devices and internet data sticks for all her students who require assistance during the lockdown.
This, she said, "took some hard mahi".
Her father, who is in her bubble together with her husband and mother, also had heart surgery immediately before the lockdown and as a result they had to be extra careful to protect his compromised immune system.
"[Jacinda Ardern] has taken what I believe is the best possible route. My only concern is small businesses that may suffer in both Whangārei and throughout all of New Zealand but, although lockdown is inconvenient, yo-yo-ing between alert level 3 and 4 is a much less attractive alternative."
Other Advocate readers took their views about the lockdown decision to social media, many supporting Monday's announcement.
"I am looking forward to camping beside my favourite beach. It is usually pretty isolated. I've always had whole beautiful beaches to myself, autumn - spring, as people didn't seem to have the time or interest to visit them when they are allowed to. I wonder if that will change?" Melanie Thomas posted.
Andrea Pijacun said she was very pleased to be able to get out of the house and return to work. Still, she was wary that some people might see this as "an opportunity to go back to pre-Covid times, which would obviously land us back at square one if there's another community outbreak".
Resident Bethan Jennens would have preferred the lockdown to be over sooner, but says at least tradies could get back to work "to salvage something from the ashes of our economy".
Whereas Advocate reader Diane Stewart takes her concerns to social media saying it is too early to come out of alert level 4.
"It should have been zero new cases and zero more deaths. Very disappointed with the decision."
Other Northlanders expressed concerns about schools reopening next week.
At the daily briefing yesterday, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said most children would be expected to continue with distance learning and schools would be open only for students up to year 10 who needed to be there.
"This is not a normal situation, and we will need to be doing things differently. Distance learning is going to be with us for some time – at least three weeks."
He said because the director-general of health was confident there was no undetected community transmission the chances of the virus coming through the gate of a school was small.
Community based testing centres
Whakawhiti Ora Pai - Far North
Te Hiku Hauora - Kaitāia
Hauora Hokianga - Hokianga
Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi - Kaikohe
Ngāti Hine Health Trust - Kawakawa, Moerewa
Te Ha Oranga - Kaipara
Whaingaroa Rūnanga - Kaeo
Whānau Ora Community Clinic - Whangaroa Health Services Trust – Kaeo
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