Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Coromandel community awaits day 12 tests

By Nita Blake-Persen of RNZ

The Coromandel community is cautiously optimistic it may have dodged a Covid-19 bullet – with widespread testing so far revealing no sign of the virus.

It’s a case of so far, so good when it comes to Covid-19 in the small townwhere the Devonport man whose positive test kicked off this cluster visited with his wife 10 days ago.

Umu cafe is one of nine locations of interest after that visit but co-owner Josie Fraser said so far all of her staff had returned a negative day-five Covid-19 test.

She said she was cautiously optimistic at this stage.

“Maybe he wasn’t a spreader, I don’t know, but somehow we might have escaped.”

But she said they weren’t in the clear yet, and would be awaiting their day-12 results to know for sure.

The testing turnout in the town and its surrounds has been huge.The chief executive of Māori health provider Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, Riana Manuel, estimated nearly 60 per cent of the local community had had a swab.

“With every day that goes by, we all breathe a sigh of relief but we’re all too aware that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday will mark the 12-day testing and we’re really just waiting to see the outcome of that,” she said.

Wastewater testing has also returned negative resultsbut Manuel said while that gave some comfort, it didn’t rule out the virus being in the community due to the high number of homes with septic tanks.

“The water supply only caters to the immediate township, with everybody living beyond that area using septic tanks.

“Especially for those smaller communities like Manaia, Harataunga, Tuateawa, up in Colville, Whangapoua and Kuaotunu, they are all on septic systems.”

The local turnout hasn’t just been huge for testing but for vaccines too.One of the testing centres has become a one-stop shop – after being swabbed people are encouraged to head across the carpark for a jab.

Waikato DHB, which covers the Coromandel area, recorded more than 3700 vaccinations on Sunday.

And the people who are behind all that testing and swabbing have not gone unnoticed.

Manuel said, in addition to community cat Helen Clarke who turns out day after day to keep them company, there had been TikTok dance challenges from testers, well wishes from those being tested, and plenty of donated kai.

Now the community wants to repay the favour and local Coromandel woman Ursula Magdalena Walsh is organising a wee whip-round to collect money to buy cafe vouchers for frontline staff.

“As a nurse myself, I know how hard nurses work anyway … I think they’re doing an incredible job in a time like this, you know? Especially in a pandemic.

“I just wanted to show that we care and that we love them and we appreciate what they’re doing,” she said.

Hundreds of dollars have been donated so far – it’s a win-win for the hard-hit cafe’sowner Josie Fraser.

“It’s definitely a scary time in terms of the business, we don’t know what the repercussions are going to be. We, of course, don’t know when we’re going to go down a level and I think it would be really premature to go down too quickly.”

The level 4 lockdown will stay in place in Coromandel, along with the rest of the country apart from Auckland, until at least this Friday when the situation will be reviewed.


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