Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Christchurch on edge, test results due from second household, new Waikato case

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It’s a nervous wait for Christchurch with at least two households caught up in the latest South Island community outbreak with more test results to come and a threat of restrictions looming large.

Officials are scrambling to retrace the footsteps of a Christchurch pair who have tested positive for Covid-19 overnight, with one of the couple feared infectious for up to a fortnight.

Christchurch’s mayor is in shock and the Covid Response Minister is mulling over whether the Garden City needs to go into a snap lockdown as more details emerge of the infection involving a person who had recently arrived in Christchurch from Auckland. The South Island is currently at alert level 2.

The Ministry of Health said a public health risk assessment of the situation is underway with the local public health unit gathering information from the pair who were now “quite unwell”, after one member of the family who had been in the North Island spread the infection to the other.

Neither of the sick pair are vaccinated and described as not “particularly good” users of the tracer app.

At this stage health officials had pinpointed one other household as close contacts in the Garden City.

But officials were working to identify other close contacts and potential exposure events, including locations of interest with the situation expected to be updated at today’s 1pm press conference.

This morning Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins he could not rule out a snap lockdown in Christchurch, but officials were still waiting on more information before making that call.

He told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking the sick person had travelled from Auckland to Christchurch and had been back a week. They could have well been infectious in the community for “quite a portion of that period”, he said.

Hipkins said the initial case had travelled from Auckland to Christchurch with a child care exemption and had tested negative before arriving in Christchurch.

He described an infections outside the current alert levels as “worrying”.

It comes on the same day as Government officials meet with primary principals in Alert Level 3 regions today to discuss the graduated return of children to class in mid-November and a major announcement about shortening stays in managed isolation for international travellers.

Meanwhile, a third person has tested positive in the small King Country town of Ōtorohanga after two cases at the weekend, linked to an outbreak in neighbouring Te Awamutu.

Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter confirmed the new case on social media this morning and urge people in the Waikato township to get tested.

Mayor's 'shock to the system'

This morning Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said like so many she woke to the dreadful turn of events.

“It was a bit of a shock to the system. It’s not the news I wanted to wake up and hear,” she said.

She hoped the two infected people hadn’t been out and about very much.

“Everything is going to come down to where the person and the other person have been over the last week.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed as I’m sure everyone else in Christchurch has.”

Dalziel said it was a reminder of just how contagious the virus was and the need to keep it contained to the one household.

“It is just a huge reminder to be incredibly vigilant about using QR codes, wearing masks and the significance of getting tested if you have any systems, no matter what.

“It’s going to be really important to get on top of this.”

To date 89 per cent of Christchurch residents have had their first dose of the vaccine.

Christchurch race day concerns

Christchurch is just weeks away from it’s biggest racing events of the year at Addington and Riccarton Raceways.

Addington racing industry manager Darrin Williams said if Christchurch was to move to alert level 3, the racing events would have to run behind closed doors.

Not even the owners will be allowed on-site, just the participants.

Williams said the only thing that would cause them not to race is if the city went into a level 4 lockdown.


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