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* The full list of the locations visited by positive case
Northland residents have waited up to three and a half hours to get a Covid test today after the discovery of a community case in the region.
Cars were lined up for about a kilometre at the Marsden Point testing centre around midday.
Kylie Moore, from Ruakākā, was at the front of the testing line. The 46-year-old had been waiting since 8.30am and was just getting tested at midday.
She said she was fortunate she brought lunch with her but said she felt sorry for a lot of the older people in the community who were waiting in their cars in hot Northland weather.
She said the wait was a bit frustrating and questioned why there weren't more testing stations open to account for the demand. "It doesn't seem very well organised."
Whangarei District Council said it was aware of long queues and congestion around testing sites in Kamo, Riverside and Ruakaka.
It made a plea on its Facebook page to those waiting in cars as the temperature headed to a sweltering 28 degrees Celsius.
"Please be as patient as you can be - it is going to be a long hot day."
At about 2pm, police said the Kamo testing station was processing approximately two cars every five minutes. Some cars were seen turning around.
Police were asking people in the queue if they had been to any of the locations the Covid-positive case visited.
Ruakākā residents Allan and Lillian had been waiting since about 9.50am to get a test after they learned they had visited one of the stores the Covid-positive woman had visited in Ruakākā.
However, the pair weren't overly worried about the wait. "If that's what you got to do, that's what you got to do," Allan said.
There are also traffic jams at other Covid testing stations.
At a testing station in Kamo, a young couple walked for over an hour to get tested as they had no other means of transport. Queues at the station snaked down the road and security was called in to assist with the situation.
One Maungaturoto woman, who did not want to be identified, said she had waited about half an hour at the Marsden Pt testing station to get a test as she was a worker in a store the Covid positive woman had visited.
She estimated there were hundreds of people at the testing station, making it a potential four-hour wait. She had left the queue as she didn't want her dog, who was in the car, to wait for that long.
Maritime Union of New Zealand Northland representative Rex Pearce said he had just been to the refinery testing station and estimated the wait to get tested could be as long as two and a half hours. He feared this may impact the ability of border workers to get tested.
One person queuing for a test at Whangārei's Pohe Island station told the Herald it was a "shambles". He had been redirected from the Kamo station because of delays.
"Very few staff. Ridiculous wait times. People are leaving," the man said. "We will be here all day."
Whangārei testing station at Pohe Island on Riverside Drive was "flat stick" just 10 minutes after it opened, a testing station worker says.
The worker, who did not want to be named, said he arrived at the station at 7.30am ready for work and already people were in cars waiting to be tested.
Frustrations started to build as drivers became confused about the parking system and caused several traffic jams.
Workers helping to direct vehicles were feeling the pressure due to "people not listening".
A Ruakaka woman, who did not want to be named, had shopped at FreshChoice supermarket on January 14 at the same as the woman.
She was getting tested at Kamo today just to "double-check".
When the news broke she hoped she hadn't been in any of the same places as the positive case.
"I really feel that maybe they should've isolated for longer at home but she had had those tests done - it's just the way it is."
The woman who works for the Government will have to take time off but said her employer was extremely supportive and understanding.
She said she usually uses great Covid tracing app but didn't on this particular day.
"I just ran in to grab some bread and milk but when I'm in a place for longer I always make sure to use the app."
The close call has meant the woman will now be extremely diligent with her tracing app.
She had concerns about whether the positive case had been allowed to leave the country during border closures and return.
A Northland woman who works in Ruakaka was one of the many people waiting patiently for her test at Pohe Island.
She said the initial reports of a case in Northland had her "p***** off" that the Government's border processes had failed.
Then when she discovered she had shopped in the Ruakaka FreshChoice store at the same as the positive case she felt compelled to do her "bit to keep others safe".
"Initially I wasn't too worried. I more feel inconvenienced because I felt like I needed to come and do this testing to be on the safe side. The chances are so slim, I just wanted to make sure there is no doubt."
Emergency service workers alongside DHB workers are being prioritised at testing stations.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners this morning asked all GPs to increase testing for Covid-19.
"GPs are at the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 ... this is a stark reminder of the issues we confront with Covid-19 and the need for vigilance throughout the year," President Dr Samantha Murton and Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty said in a message to 5500 GP members with a reminder for how to keep staff and patients safe.
Two close contacts test negative
The husband of the Northland community Covid-19 case and another close contact of the infected woman have tested negative for coronavirus, Chris Hipkins said this morning.
Hipkins told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB the woman's husband and her hairdresser have since tested negative.
Hipkins told Newshub he may have more test results in another hour or so.
The genomic sequencing would take a bit longer and help identify if there was a clear link to another existing case, or a link to other international cases.
Asked if she got it at her managed isolation facility, the Pullman Hotel, the Covid response minister told Newstalk ZB it was "more likely" that she did.
"We can't really make a conclusion about where she got it yet. It's possible it's an ultra-long incubation period, although unlikely, it's probably more possible that she picked it up at the MIQ facility but at this point I wouldn't rule any scenarios in or out," Hipkins said.
The woman visited 28 locations (including one location twice) while travelling around southern Northland. The list of business the woman visited was released about 9 o'clock last night.
The list includes supermarkets, clothing and electronic stores, cafes, restaurants, a gallery, plant centre, museum, pharmacy, vehicle testing station and tavern. It includes locations in Whangārei, Ruakaka, Parua Bay, Mangawhai Heads and Helensville.
It covers a period from January 14 - the day after she left MIQ - to January 22 - the day she got tested.
The Ministry of Health said anyone who visited the locations of interest during the relevant times is considered to have had a low risk of exposure but should isolate and call Healthline about when and where to get a test.
Hosking told Hipkins the Government was too soft, but he rejected that.
"No, I don't think so when you look at overall, what we've dealt with. We've had more than 100,000 people come back through those isolation facilities, we've picked up about 600 cases, those 600 cases have all been isolated. There's very little evidence that there's been transmission between people within the facility," Hipkins said.
Hipkins said they wouldn't be able to confirm if there would be any lockdown in Northland for up to 48 hours.
"Everyone wants answers, everybody reaches their own conclusions and starts hypothecating about what might have happened but we do have to wait for another 24 to 48 hours to draw some conclusions."
Hipkins wouldn't comment about any change in alert levels but said the test results of close contacts would decide what would happen next.
"The testing results from the close contacts and those who are coming forward because they were in the same place at the same time, the test results from that group will very much inform what happens next."
Hipkins said they couldn't stop Kiwis who lived overseas coming home.
"I think it's too early to draw conclusions and I think we do need to take a breath and find out what has happened here ... but the woman here has followed all the rules and done everything right."
Hosking said that was just luck and what happened if the next person didn't do that.
"Well that's one of the reasons why we're asking people to do that, it is important, it does matter and one of the reasons why we have the freedom ... that we have at the moment," Hipkins replied.
Asked what the 56-year-old woman was doing overseas, Hipkins wouldn't say, but he did rule out that she had not been on holiday.
First community case since November
It is New Zealand's first reported community case since November and has sparked a rush to identify how the woman got infected, and whether the virus has spread further.
The woman is now in isolation at her home with her husband.
Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that the new case was a learning process for everyone and illustrated how everyone could do better.
As for what more could be done, Baker said since it was likely she got infected in the MIQ facility, officials should look at what advice was she given before she left.
Baker said the case could have been a lot worse and the fact it was a border case was good news, as was the fact she didn't appear to have a lot of close contacts.
The risk had now gone up several notches, Baker said. His colleagues believed New Zealand needed to look more at the source countries.
"We have to up our defences accordingly and there are things we can do."
The low number of close contacts has Covid-19 experts optimistic that a lockdown will be avoided - but they warn the test results of those contacts could be critical.
Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said while the new case was concerning, there were only four close contacts.
"Going forward, it will be important to determine whether the person acquired the case in managed isolation and quarantine, as this might mean there are other returnees who could have been exposed and officials will want to tighten any procedures that could have led to exposure."
National's health spokesman and Whangarei-based list MP Shane Reti said there was a sense of disbelief among the community and he was very disappointed the almost 30 sites the Covid-positive woman visited were not revealed immediately.
"In matters of urgency like this and on a weekend - so you are not going to maybe get people until Monday in their business hours - I think urgency trumps some of the other concerns."
Mangawhai is a popular holiday spot for Aucklanders and many could have left the area to return to work over the past week.
The woman's case also sparked concern about potential transmission in the MIQ facility.
She had stayed at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland for her isolation period until January 13, and the Covid-19 team were scanning CCTV footage to check for any possible instances of infection transmission.
Genomic sequencing showed she had the South African Covid strain.
About a dozen others at the Pullman in Auckland had tested positive for Covid-19 during the woman's stay and several had the South African and UK variants.
Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said the case was different from the August Auckland cluster, given authorities were dealing with just one case with a probable link to the border - rather than several with no connection.
"But it's a little bit of a waiting game to get the results from testing of close contacts - that's the key thing at this stage - and once we get those test results, we'll know whether it's spread more widely."
The woman left the Pullman on January 13 and told health officials she got very mild symptoms, such as muscle aches, on January 15, but did not associate them with Covid-19 until they worsened over the week. She got tested on January 22, and the positive result came through on Saturday night.
The woman had returned from a work trip for about four months in Spain, and visited family in the Netherlands on the way back. She returned via London where she stayed in an airport hotel, and transited through Singapore.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said the Northland District Health Board Medical Officer of Health had decided that was appropriate for the woman to isolate at her home.
"The situation will be monitored closely to ensure there is no public health risk."
Hipkins said all staff at the Pullman who had not had a test in the last few days were being tested. About 600 others who had stayed at the Pullman over the same period were also being asked to isolate and get tests.