24 Oct 2021

More could have been done to stop Covid-19 reaching South Island - Kaikōura MP

3:00 pm on 24 October 2021

The MP for the Marlborough region claims lax controls contributed to a Covid-19 case detected in Blenheim, and a Wellington site has been listed in connection with it.

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Stuart Smith believes rapid antigen testing should be carried out on all air and ferry passengers heading to the South Island. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The person tested positive after arriving on a flight from Rotorua via Wellington.

It is the first case in the South Island for nearly a year, and anyone in Marlborough with symptoms of even a mild cold or flu is being asked to get tested.

The domestic lounge at Wellington Airport has also been listed in connection to the case, as the traveller stopped there on Thursday morning on the way to Blenheim. Anyone who was in the lounge at the same time has been asked to get tested.

National MP for Kaikōura Stuart Smith said the case was disappointing.

"Given that lack of care then it's not surprising that it's in the South Island but you know I've been urging people that've got symptoms to get tested and those people that aren't vaccinated to do so as quickly as possible if they so choose."

Smith believes rapid antigen testing should be carried out on all air and ferry passengers heading to the South Island.

"If we'd had a rollout of rapid antigen testing pre-flights and / or coming across [on] the ferry into the South Island put in place by now that would've gone some way to protect the South Island."

The Ministry of Health said the case flew from Rotorua to Blenheim via Wellington on Thursday and it is believed they are connected to the Te Awamutu cluster.

Demand for testing had risen steeply in the area after news of the case broke, the Nelson Marlborough DHB said, with more than 100 swabs taken yesterday. However authorities were hoping for a much bigger turnout today and tomorrow.

And more people showed up for walk-in first dose vaccinations yesterday than on previous Saturdays, with more than 450 given across Nelson Tasman and Marlborough.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said that the region is well-prepared to tackle the case.

He said an outbreak was always a possibility and authorities have been working hard.

Leggett said high vaccination rates are the key to stopping the virus spreading.

In the Nelson Marlborough region, 90 percent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine and 78 percent are fully immunised.

The Ministry of Health yesterday listed a number of locations of interest in Blenheim in connection with the case including supermarkets, a campground, a hardware store and a bakery.

Also included in the locations of interest are two Air New Zealand flights on the morning of 21 October first from Rotorua to Wellington and then from Wellington to Blenheim.

  • Mitre 10 MEGA at 174 Alabama Road in Blenheim on Friday 22 October from 2.05pm-4.30pm.
  • Shosha Blenheim at 17 Queen Street in Blenheim on 22 October between 4pm-5pm.
  • KiwiCamp Riverlands at 3535 State Highway 1 in Blenheim on 22 October from 12am-7.15pm and also on Thursday 21 October from 10.45am-11.59pm.
  • Wairau Pharmacy on 47 Scott Street in Blenheim on 21 October from 9.30am-9.45am.
  • Countdown Blenheim at 51 Arthur Street in Blenheim on 22 October from 4pm to 5pm.
  • Flight NZ8231 from Rotorua to Wellington on 21 October at 7am to 8.15am.
  • Wellington Domestic Airport on 21 October from 8.15am to 9am.
  • Flight NZ8725 Wellington to Blenheim on 21 October from 9am to 9.30am.
  • Couplands Bakery at 27 Grove Road in Blenheim on 22 October from 2.45pm-3pm.
  • New World Blenheim at 4 Freswick Street on 21 October from 8pm-8.30pm.

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