BOP awaits fate following weak positive Delta case

A person in Katikati has returned a positive test for COVID-19. Photo: SunLive.

Results from contacts linked to a Covid-positive case in the Bay of Plenty due back today will provide a clearer picture of the damage Delta has done in the latest detection outside Auckland.

News of a weak positive result was announced on Saturday night, in a vaccinated person who was in the process of moving from Pukekohe to a rural area north of Katikati for work.

The Ministry of Health says the public health risk is low given the person is fully vaccinated, was avidly using the Covid-19 tracer app, and has been isolating alongside family members.

Dr Ayesha Verrall announces the Government will pilot rapid antigen testing in some hospitals and a self-isolation scheme, and talks of plans to allow private businesses to import tests.

So far there has been no indication the region will join the Waikato, Northland and Auckland at alert level 3.

Extra testing stations are open today in the rural town and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board will announce this morning whether more vaccine clinics are on the way.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber says the town and surrounding areas had to head into “preventative mode”.

“If in doubt, go and get a test and without fail go and get vaccinated.”

Based on suburb-level data, Katikati's vaccination rates are just below the national average for both first and second doses: 77.5 per cent have had one dose, and 49.5 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Katikati's main street. Photo: SunLive.

The town’s nearest walk-in vaccination centres open on Sundays are in Tauranga – a 40-minute drive away. Katikati’s only local clinic, at the RSA, has been open a total of 10 hours a week, between 10am and 3pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“We are working on vaccine sites for Katikati, which includes access to the RSA,” the district health board said on Saturday.

Webber suggested access to vaccination could remain an issue for some residents.

Katikati’s nearest walk-in vaccine clinics open daily are in Tauranga, about 40 minutes’ drive away.

“We’re a rural district, and we have some severely deprived areas where some of these people don't have a vehicle,” he said.

“And there are no bus services to our remote villages.”

News of the case had left him with concerns for those across the district, particularly for more vulnerable residents.

The Ministry has indicated there are locations of interest in both Pukekohe and Katikati, but details are yet to emerge. Locations will be added to the Ministry of Health website as soon as confirmed.

Webber said he would understand if the region had to enter alert level 3.

“It’s landed here, and how do we get rid of it.”

Mayor Garry Webber. Photo: Sunlive.

The case has earned praise on social media for following the rules to the letter.

The case is understood to be the first detection of Covid-19 in Katikati since the pandemic began.

But one councillor conceded it was a matter of time before a case arrived in the State Highway 2 town, which is a hub for kiwifruit and avocado orchards.

“I think it was pretty inevitable, whether it happened now or in a couple of weeks,” Katikati-Waihi councillor James Denyer said.

He added residents had been following the alert level rules, but “you do see the odd one without a mask”.

The person returned five negative test results since the beginning of September, the most recent being October 5.

The positive test result, which was taken on Friday, had a high CT value, usually seen in the early or late stage of infection, and is under further investigation, including a repeat test, the Ministry of Health said.

They had reported no symptoms apart from regular seasonal hayfever and a runny nose that hadn’t recently changed.

Katikati resident Rochelle Thomson said she felt prepared as she was fully vaccinated, but expected the case would be a reality-check for some.

“When you're far away in these little isolated towns you think it's apart from you, but this is a bit of a wake-up call.”

The positive case has been praised for regularly using the Covid-19 tracer app, as well as getting regular tests.

Testing locations open on Sunday

Katikati Medical Centre, 4 Clive Road, 8.30am – 4.30pm

Katikati Rugby and Sports Clubrooms, Fairview Rd, Katikati 8.30am – 4.30pm (hours will be extended if there is high-demand)

Tauranga Accident and HealthCare, 19 Second Avenue, 8am – 6pm

Vaccine clinics open Sunday

Tauranga Central Covid Vaccination Centre, 87 First Avenue, Tauranga, 8am – 3pm, walk-in

Baypark Stadium, Truman Lane, Mount Maunganui, 10am – 7pm, walk-in, wheelchair accessible

Rachel Thomas/Stuff

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