6 Nov 2021

Testing urged after Covid-19 found in wastewater samples

1:44 pm on 6 November 2021

There has been increased demand for Covid-19 testing in Gisborne after traces of the virus were detected in wastewater samples.

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This testing site in Gisborne is among those in the region that are busy. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Authorities are asking anyone with Covid-19 symptoms in Hawke's Bay, Tairāwhiti and Taranaki to get tested today after the virus was detected in wastewater samples taken in Napier, Gisborne and Stratford.

The samples could be from recently recovered cases returning to the region after being in managed isolation, or could signal undetected cases in the community.

There are no MIQ facilities, or known Covid-19 cases self-isolating, in either area.

Further samples will be taken in the coming days, with results expected early next week.

In Taranaki, testing facilities are open today at Taranaki and Hawera Hospitals, the Stratford War Memorial Car Park and Ōpunake Medical Centre.

In Gisborne testing is available at a drive-through set up in Peel Street from 9am-5pm; no appointment is required.

Testing stations are busy throughout the region today.

The chief executive for Turanga Health, Reweti Ropiha is at Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne where he said the vaccination process is also in full swing.

"It's the convenience of bringing your car through; we've got a vaccination team to give you the vaccination.

"We then observe and then basically follow through, [it's] probably about a 30-minute experience. We've been here since 10am this morning and our intent is to go through until 7 o"clock tonight and then repeat that tomorrow."

Ropiha said many people are anxious to know whether there are Covid-19 cases in the Gisborne community.

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There is steady demand at a drive-through vaccination centre in Gisborne. Photo: RNZ / Mani Dunlop

In Hawke's Bay there are testing centres open today at Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Waipukurau.

Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise said it is inevitable that Covid-19 will reach her community eventually.

She said people are concerned and anxious to know where the positive result has come from.

The DHB has ramped up its testing capacity this morning and is prepared for a big demand, she said.

Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke said the detection of Covid in wastewater is a wake-up call for the region, where 69 percent of people are double dosed with the Pfizer vaccine.

"I don't think it's a surprise but it's certainly a reality check and when it's on your back door I think everybody wants to sharpen up and make sure they're on board with the vacination process."

Volzke hopes for a rush in people turning out to get vaccinated and tested today.

And people around the country are being encouraged to get their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine today, as it is three weeks since Super Saturday.

Nearly 40,000 received their first shot that day, and follow-up vaccination events are happening this weekend.

The biggest event is GotYaDot at Eden Park which will be open for vaccinations from 12-8pm today and tomorrow.

Anyone who gets vaccinated will get their name on the big screen as well as the opportunity to walk through the rugby players' tunnel.

In Porirua vaccinations will be administered during a tag football event tomorrow and in New Plymouth tomorrow afternoon a multi-ethnic family fun day is planned.

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