A case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Masterton in the Wairarapa, the Ministry of Health says.
It follows news a person from Taupō spent a weekend in the region before testing positive for the virus, and comes a day after confirmation of two positive cases in the neighbouring Tararua district.
The case is in addition to 173 new community cases announced on Monday, as the Wairarapa case was confirmed after the Ministry’s 9am cut off. A total of 476 residents were tested on Sunday.
The Masterton case was believed to have been found early in the course of their infection, the Ministry said.
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Local public health teams are interviewing the person to identify close contacts and exposure events.
A Challenge petrol station in Greytown and several spots in Masterton have been confirmed as locations of interest. Tararua locations of interest include a Caltex and Farmlands in Pahiatua.
South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said more locations were expected to emerge on Monday, as it was likely the person visited more places in the wine-growing region.
“My concerns are there are more places of interest we haven’t been made aware of, and other people may have been exposed.
“So it’s that crucial thing – if you’ve got a sniffle, get a test.”
Earlier, Beijen said the council was prepared if active cases were confirmed in the region, but said the threat had arrived “a lot quicker than I’d hoped”.
“It’s a real shame the spread down the island has happened so quickly.”
People in the Wairarapa should continue to check the Ministry’s website for further locations, and get tested if they have symptoms, even if they are mild and they are vaccinated.
Seventy of those 476 tests were from residents in South Wairarapa, home to about 12,000 people, he said.
Discussions were under way with public health officials and Wellington Water to increase wastewater testing in the Wairarapa, which had been “not necessarily the regularity you would hope for”, Beijen said.
“There has been wastewater testing in South Wairarapa and Masterton over time but as of this morning we are in discussions, but that will be driven from the district health board and the Ministry of Health in regard to the frequency they want.”
Ministry of Health data shows that 88 per cent of Wairarapa’s eligible population has had a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 842 more people needed to get the shot for the number to reach 90 per cent. Seventy-seven per cent had received their second dose.
“Everyone is talking 90 per cent at the moment as a minimum, but I think we should be pushing closer to 95 per cent for public safety and for healthcare services to cope,” Beijen said.