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Two new cases confirmed in Tararua District

Healthcare workers administering covid-tests in Masterton were “flat out” after Wairarapa locations of interest were made public on Saturday. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

New locations of interest in region

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Covid-19 advances south with positive cases confirmed in the Tararua District and new locations of interest in Wairarapa notified during the weekend.

Late on Saturday, the Ministry of Health confirmed four Wairarapa locations of interest linked to a positive Taupo case who visited the region on November 6-7 before becoming symptomatic.

Locations of interest included Greytown Challenge Petrol Station, The Warehouse Masterton, and Master Fried Chicken in Kuripuni at various times on Saturday, November 6. Masterton McDonalds on Chapel St was also a location of interest from 10.30am-12.45pm on Sunday, November 7.

In response to the ministry’s update, pop-up testing sites were operating on Sunday at Masterton Medical Centre and Featherston Medical. A healthcare worker at Masterton’s testing site said they had been “flat out all day” with cars queuing since 8.30 that morning. By 9.30am, the queue was approaching 50 vehicles.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported two positive covid cases in the Tararua District, with no known links to other outbreaks. It said the positive cases – members from the same household – became symptomatic on Friday.

“They sought prompt testing and are now self-isolating at home.”

The Ministry of Health recommended that anyone in Woodville with mild symptoms seek a test.

Tararua locations of interest included Farmlands Pahiatua from 3.30-4pm on Friday, November 12, and Caltex Woodville from 9-9.30am on Saturday, November 13.

The proximity of cases in Tararua and Wairarapa’s new locations of interest renewed calls for community vigilance.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty urged people showing symptoms, no matter how mild, to be tested. He said the cases in Tararua should be commended.

“They developed symptoms, got tested, and turned out they did the whole community a favour.”

He said it was a reminder of why contact tracing, testing, and vaccination were so important.

“It could be the difference between widespread community transfer and an isolated incident.”

Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis said she was confident pop-up testing sites would reveal the extent of the outbreak. However, she said she had thought the district would have more time before covid reached them.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was a worrying time, but the standard covid safety messaging still applied.

“The best approach is to get tested if you have been in a location of interest. Get vaccinated, follow the rules, sanitise, and practise social distancing.”

En route to the pop-up testing site in Featherston, South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said he was “very, very concerned” and said that it was a shame the virus was no longer contained in Auckland.

He questioned whether there were more locations of interest to be unearthed in Greytown.

“I don’t understand why someone would drive to Greytown just for petrol and then back to Masterton,” he said.

At midday yesterday, Greytown Challenge service station owner Lindsey Ward said she was still waiting for the Ministry of Health to contact her.

She had learned the business was a location of interest through social media.

Ward said the petrol station was still operating, but she asked staff who were working on November 6 to get tested and then isolate at home. She said staff members were vaccinated and had been following standard covid protocol.

Co-owner of Master Fried Chicken Samut Chhay said he and his staff were “feeling fine” and were now awaiting test results.

Chhay said there had been confusion on the Ministry of Health website about the day the store was visited, but security footage and a phone call to the ministry had since corrected the information.

Chhay said he and the four other staff members all followed covid safety procedure, but as a small business had no choice but to close while they waited for the five-day test results.

Taranaki District Health Board reported on Sunday that two Wairarapa contacts linked to the Stratford outbreak had returned negative covid tests.

On November 11, Wairarapa District Health Board reported 88 per cent of those eligible had received their first dose of the vaccine, while 77 per cent were double-vaccinated.

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