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The South Island has its first Covid case in 12 months – a person who flew from Rotorua to Marlborough and who has been linked to a Waikato cluster.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed the case is now isolating in Blenheim.
“It comes after the individual late last night returned a positive Covid-19 test result,” the Ministry said in a statement.
“The individual flew from Rotorua and arrived in Blenheim on [Thursday]. The individual sought a test upon arrival after developing a sore throat. The initial test, including a follow-up swab, returned a weak positive result.
“Investigations into the source of the infection are under way. However, initial case interviews suggest the case is linked to the Te Awamutu cluster.”
The ministry said the current public health assessment was that the risk appeared low given the individual’s likely late stage of infection.
“So far, initial case interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who have been contacted and are currently isolating with tests arranged.
“Interviews are also being undertaken to determine any locations of interest.”
People in Blenheim were being urged to check the regularly updated locations of interest list.
“We are also asking Blenheim residents with symptoms – no matter how mild – to please get tested, even if they are vaccinated.”
Testing in Blenheim is available at:
* Blenheim CBAC: Horton Park, off Redwood St, 9am-5.30pm on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
* Nelson CBAC: Saxton Field parking area, Suffolk Rd, Stoke, 10am-6pm on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
“Additional testing capacity in the area will be stood up, if needed, and details will be available on the Healthpoint website,” said the ministry.
“Meanwhile, those in Marlborough, Nelson, and Tasman are reminded to get vaccinated this weekend if they have not already. Vaccination clinic locations across the region are available on the Nelson Marlborough Health website.
“So far, vaccination rates in the Marlborough region have remained steady with 90% of residents having received their first dose, and 78% fully immunised.
“The Ministry is monitoring the situation and will provide further public health advice if, and when, required.”
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said he understood the person was isolating.
He was not sure how widely the person had travelled in Blenheim and said contact tracing was under way.
However, Leggett said the high rate of vaccination in the district was reassuring.
When approached by Newstalk ZB on Friday night, the Ministry of Health said it would not provide any comment until 1pm today.
Before today, the South Island has had no Covid cases in the community since November last year when two health workers caught the virus while working in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) hotel.
As of Friday morning, the West Coast DHB had the South Island’s lowest fully vaccinated rate of 62 per cent, with Canterbury second lowest at 64 per cent, according to Government data.
Further ahead are the South Canterbury DHB with 69 per cent fully vaccinated, and Southern and Nelson/Marlborough both with 72 per cent.
Blenheim has been at the centre of several cases involving Aucklanders allegedly travelling in breach of Covid travel restrictions.
A businesswoman who flew from Auckland to the Marlborough Sounds for a property appraisal was charged three weeks ago for breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
Police have summonsed the 53-year-old woman to the Blenheim District Court on October 26, and health authorities were notified.
A spokesperson said police were tipped off last Tuesday and spoke to the woman on Wednesday.
The Herald understands she is an early childhood education business owner and had travelled to Marlborough to have her holiday home appraised.
Her work and social media pages list Wellington as her home city.
However, the Herald understands she was living in a central Auckland flat during alert level 4 and 3 this year, and police had visited the apartment last week as part of the inquiry.
And last week, two women who sparked a Covid-19 scare in the South Island were ordered to return to Auckland.
The pair appeared in Blenheim District Court on Thursday afternoon last week.
The duo appeared via video link from Blenheim police station, facing charges of failing to comply with an order made under section 11 of the Covid 19 Public Health Response Act 2020.
They were bailed with no plea back to Auckland and ordered to reappear in court later this month.
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