Testing stations around Taranaki were busy on Monday morning, after it was announced two members of a Papatoetoe family infected with the UK variant of the virus had travelled to Taranaki over Waitangi Weekend. The two women, a mother and daughter, visited several tourist destinations and eateries in and around New Plymouth between February 6 and 8.
Health officials have asked people to check the list of locations the pair had visited while in Taranaki and to see a test for Covid-19 if they were in those places at the same time. People should also seek a test if they have symptoms.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed the positive cases visited locations in the city last weekend including Te Rewarewa Bridge, Sumela Kebab, Amber Court Hotel, Pukekura Park, Egmont National Park, Cycle Inn, Puke Ariki Library and Museum, Pizza Hut, BP Breakwater Road and Back Beach.
A full list of the locations is online, and updated as information comes in. See the Ministry of Health website for details.
Auckland was moved into level 3 at 11.59pm on Sunday, while the rest of New Zealand was placed in level 2 after three members of the south Auckland family, including the pair who had travelled to Taranaki, tested positive for the virus . Official advice is that while Taranaki had several locations of interest, alert level 2 is adequate and considered to be at low risk as two close contacts who travelled with the mother and daughter have tested negative.
Long queues were seen at New Plymouth's main Covid-19 testing centre on Monday. Shortly after the city's testing centre opened at Taranaki Base Hospital yesterday, cars stretched about 700m along Tukapa St. One person said he'd been waiting for around two hours, after telling his boss he'd been at Sumela Kebab around the same time the cases visited. "My legs are starting to get tired but I work with a lot of people - so it's better to be safe than sorry," he said.
At the 35-unit Amber Court Motel in New Plymouth, where the mother and daughter stayed while in Taranaki, two cleaners have been told to have a Covid test.
The manager, who only wanted to be known as Raewyn, said she was informed about the motel being a location of interest by the Taranaki District Health Board.
Since the name of the motel had been listed as location of interest for the latest cases, "the phone hasn't stopped from every Tom, Dick and Harry who has stayed here since February 6", she said.
Raewyn said she had been given information about cleaning the motel room where the pair stayed, but said the motel had already been deep cleaning the units after guests left as a matter of practice for some time.
She said two cleaners who had contact with the unit had been advised to get a test and would not be returning to work until February 24.
Raewyn said she would not be tested, saying she was behind a glass barrier and more than 1m away when she checked the pair in and out of the motel.
Asked how she felt about the situation, Raewyn said: "It's going to happen no matter where you go. I did a tour of the South Island for 14 days with my friend. It was something we were aware of. It's something we now have to live with."
Taranaki District Health Board's incident management team controller Becky Jenkins says contact tracing is under way in the region. All the local businesses who are listed as "locations of interest" have been contacted, and access to testing for those identified from these businesses has been arranged.
On Monday, around 200 people were tested at Taranaki Base Hospital's testing centre alone, plus many more tests the Hāwera testing centre and at other general practice and community provider sites across the region. Testing was also busy but steady across other sites in New Plymouth, Hāwera, Waitara and Opunake and in the community.
She says people should follow the advice given by health professionals.
"Our advice remains the same – people with symptoms, or those who have visited one of the locations of interest during the same timeframe as the Covid-19 cases are asked to isolate, call Healthline for a testing appointment, get tested and wait for your results."