17 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Wairarapa DHB's cases all recovered now

5:45 pm on 17 April 2020

A mayor in New Zealand's only region that has rid itself of Covid-19 says high testing rates helped stamp out the virus.

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Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Wairarapa, which reported the country's first case of community transmission, currently has no active cases of the coronavirus.

Its eight cases, six confirmed and two probable, have all recovered in the community with no hospital intervention.

Its district health board (DHB) has the highest rate of testing per head of population at 16.3 tests per 1000 people, followed by Waikato and Southern DHBs at 10.9 and 10.3, respectively, as of today.

South Wairarapa mayor Alex Beijen said local people followed lockdown rules well but high testing rates also helped rid the region of the virus.

"The Wairarapa region had the highest number of tests done per head of population. I think this might have also been a cause of getting on top of things pretty quickly."

Speaking at this afternoon's briefing, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said there was no one reason why Wairarapa was free of the virus while other regions were not.

"There's no science behind why one place would have higher cases [over] others. What we're now are seeing across the country is a high level of testing so that's giving us a much better assurance that we're not missing any undetected cases."

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was quick to add regional cases did not necessarily reflect what had happened in that area.

"I do think that it's important to remember when data is reported DHB by DHB that it doesn't necessarily pick up the point that Dr McElnay is making that, for example, the Hereford Bull Conference [in Queenstown] is actually the source of a number of the Waikato DHB cases," Robertson said.

"So it's actually a little bit difficult to say it's about a particular region."

In a statement, Wairarapa District Health Board chief executive Dale Oliff said while she was grateful the region had a low case count, any reason as to why this was the case was pure speculation.

"Wairarapa has done a great job of sticking to the lockdown restrictions and taking prevention seriously. Right now, we have no active cases, so it's a matter of so far so good, but we are still testing symptomatic people daily across our six testing facilities and it is too soon to suggest we have this virus beaten."

The Wairarapa District Health Board is not alone in seeing an inverse trend as recovered cases climb and active ones continue to fall in numbers across the country.

Recovered cases in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hutt Valley, Nelson Marlborough, Southern and Taranaki DHBs are all double - or close to double - the number of active ones.

More than 74,000 tests have now been completed nationwide, and the government is rolling out a new round of random testing targeting hotspot areas to see if there is any community transmission of Covid-19.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

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