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An up and down day with the numbers

Queues for covid testing at Masterton Medical. PHOTO/FILE

GRACE PRIOR
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There was plenty of words and even more numbers to digest on the covid-19 front on Friday. Wairarapa recorded 69 new cases, but an unexpected jump in recovered cases pushed the total active cases back below 500.

The Ministry of Health [MoH] said 106 Wairarapa cases had now recovered, leaving 469 active cases in the region.

Last week had had a marked increase in cases, which was partly attributed to an increase in testing. Wairarapa logged 63 cases the weekend before and there was an expectation that this weekend could produce a similar number if testing figures also rise.

MoH said that since the beginning of the omicron outbreak, Wairarapa had reported 575 covid-19 cases. MoH announced 22,527 new community cases across the nation on Friday.

MoH said there were now 146,527 active community cases in New Zealand.

There were no hospitalisations in Wairarapa on Friday, but there were 17 people from the Capital and Coast District Health Board [DHB] in hospital, five in Hutt Valley, and nine in MidCentral.

Of the 562 hospitalised cases in New Zealand, 11 were in an intensive care or high dependency unit.

Meanwhile, Wairarapa DHB said it was “working hard” to support the supply of rapid antigen tests [RATs].

It said free tests were available to people who had covid-19 symptoms, were a household contact of a case, were a critical worker, or were at higher risk of covid-19 than the general population.

Community-based Health Point said there were RAT community collection sites at Unichem Southend Pharmacy, Life Pharmacy Masterton, Langs Pharmacy, Masterton Medical Pharmacy, Duncan’s Pharmacy, Carterton Pharmacy, and Unichem Pharmacy Martinborough.

The DHB said if anyone did not fit the criteria for the free RAT, they could purchase them from “various distributors”. However, it was not yet clear where purchasable RATs would be distributed in Wairarapa.

MoH acting group manager of covid-19 testing and supply, Jo Pugh, said the ministry expected there to be 1000 RAT pick-up sites across New Zealand.

“So the majority of New Zealanders can access a free RAT within 20 minutes driving distance. The Ministry of Health is also exploring options to deliver RATs to those who order them.”

The DHB said there was a delivery option available for those who could not easily access a collection site. It said Wairarapa Hospital was not a collection site.

“If you are unsure what you need to do, please contact your general practitioner who will provide you with support and guidance.”

The DHB said the testing situation was likely to change in the coming days as more rapid antigen testing options became available and the expected stock arrived in the region.

“Remember, if you have cold or flu like symptoms, stay home, isolate and get tested. We can deliver you a RAT if you need us to, we just need a bit more time to get that organised.”

It said you could ask a family member to pick up a RAT on your behalf.

The DHB said used RAT kits were considered medical waste and should be disposed of safely in a zip-locked bag along with normal rubbish.

It said more RAT options would become available in the coming days and weeks as stocks continued to arrive.

“The DHB understands that RAT kits will be more readily available in supermarkets in the coming days as the kits begin to flow through the national supply chain.”

The DHB did not respond to questions about the number of RAT tests it had already received, or the number it expected to receive in the next month.

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