Anxious community turns out to test as Taranaki Covid-19 outbreak grows

6:42 pm on 20 December 2021

The focus of Covid-19 testing in Taranaki has shifted north as locations of interest multiply.

Anxious locals queue for nasal swabs in Bell Block.

Anxious locals queue for nasal swabs in Bell Block. Photo: LDR

Many of the locations of interest visited by people with Covid-19 last week are around Bell Block and the Waiwhakaiho Valley Shopping Centre.

While Ngāruahine's testing continued in Eltham, Tui Ora set up at Bell Block's Hickford Park.

Gina Paki was one of the locals queuing for a swab.

"I've been to one of the locations of interest, so just to be safe I thought I'd better come down and get done. My local SuperValue, I'm there every day."

"I have been a little bit snuffly but I get hayfever too so that doesn't help you to know."

She said the number of popular places listed as locations of interest by the Health Ministry was worrying, especially as everyone has been used to hearing of locations in other regions.

"I would say the community is probably a little bit anxious at the moment."

All her immediate whānau are in Bell Block and would be getting tested.

Gina Paki visited Bell Block's SuperValue when someone with Covid was shopping.

Gina Paki visited Bell Block's SuperValue when someone with Covid was shopping. Photo: LDR

Tui Ora clinical nurse lead Robyn Taylor said the number of locations in the area prompted the Hickford Park setup, with help from Taranaki District Health Board.

"There was the SuperValue, and some places around the Bell Block shopping centre and the Valley - a lot of people at the Valley at the weekend."

With a queue already forming, the testing began before the scheduled 12pm start time and would continue past the 2pm closing time if needed.

"We will stay until everyone's tested."

Taylor said with Christmas and the New Year just days away, Tui Ora was preparing to continue the effort.

"We're setting up a roster system so we can come out and do this over that two-week break up until the 5th of January - so we're all going to be on call if needed."

She said kaimahi would get a break over the holiday period, thanks to help from the region's iwi Covid-19 response organisation Te Aranga, and the DHB.

"We've gotta look after our own before we can look after others."

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