Northland's health services are preparing for a summer population boom that increases the possibility of a Covid-19 outbreak in the region.
The Northland District Health Board (NDHB) has spoken with health providers across the North to make sure they are prepared to react quickly to any new cases or clusters.
Ngāti Hine Health Trust, a Māori health provider, is among the organisations involved. Chief executive Geoff Milner said his staff would be on the frontline over the summer, testing people for Covid-19 in Kawakawa on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from December 22 to February 24.
"Our team and nurses would've loved a break there but we've still got this Covid crisis undertone in New Zealand. Until these vaccines roll out, we are there," he said.
Milner said his staff would return from leave and assist their communities in preventing the virus from spreading if there was a significant outbreak in Northland.
Milner said people needed to use common sense when they felt sick and should stay away from areas where people were gathered in high density.
Whakawhiti Ora Pai, New Zealand's northernmost health provider, was also a key player in Northland's Covid-19 response. General manager Errol Murray said he was in conversation with the DHB about how to protect Far North communities.
"They've asked us to be ready for another onslaught of it, should it happen. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best."
Murray said the population north of Kaitaia more than tripled over summer. He said he expected this summer's influx to be lower due to international travel restrictions.
Like Milner, Murray believed the risk of further Northland Covid-19 cases was low but medical staff were prepared with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) should the worst happen.
Murray expected roadblocks - which were placed at Ngataki and Te Hapua - to be set up again with the blessing of police if Covid-19 returned.
Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi chief executive Te Ropu Poa said the health and social services organisation was primed to support the wider Kaikohe, Hokianga and Whangaroa areas in any Covid outbreak.
Poa said it was hoped the DHB would increase its presence in those communities. "We don't have all the public health resource that they do. They should be able to provide the coverage. If they can provide it in Kerikeri, they can provide it everywhere else."
Poa said she was in talks with Te Kahu o Taonui (Northland Collective of Iwi Chairs) in the coming days to determine when roadblocks would be necessary.
"If there are cases in Auckland and people are coming from Auckland, those things will happen. We work pretty closely with the police now and have regular contact with them."
Ngāti Kuri Iwi Trust Board Covid lead Sheridan Waitai oversaw the management of Covid-19 restrictions at Far North roadblocks and at the iwi's three major campgrounds - Rarawa Beach, Taputaputa and Kapowairua (Spirits Bay).
With more than 600 people across those campsites when at capacity, Waitai said those numbers would be reduced if New Zealand went up in alert levels, with the possibility of them being closed off to all visitors.
If roadblocks were reintroduced, she said they would be operated with police and community members to ensure only essential service workers and whānau returning home were let through.
New Zealand College of Midwives president Nicole Pihema, of Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa, said pregnant travellers should tell their local midwife ahead of holiday trips to Northland to allow colleagues here to be forewarned.
St John Far North territory manager Leigh Knightbridge said more resources - ambulances and staff - were being sent to Doubtless Bay, Russell and Paihia to help with the increased summer workload.
"We are good with management systems in place to deal with any Covid-19 patients."
NDHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said the summer influx of visitors to Northland put significant pressure on its healthcare services.
"While international visitor numbers are down because our border is closed, domestic visitors will be up due to our close proximity to Auckland."
What to do to stop Covid this summer:
• Download the app and sign into places using the NZ Covid Tracer app - If you don't have the app keep a record of your movements
• Register for the QR Code Poster - display in a prominent place, especially if you are having lots of visitors over the holidays
• Stay home if you're unwell and get tested: practise good hygiene (includes washing your hands often and coughing into your elbow; wear a face covering if you are unwell
• If you are renting your home or bach to others, register for the QR Code Poster and display in a prominent place.