Covid-19 case discovered in Te Waipounamu

By Will Trafford

Picture: RNZ

The Ministry of Health has confirmed a person has tested positive for COVID-19 in Blenheim, in the north east of the South Island.

The individual flew from Rotorua and arrived in Blenheim on October 21st, they sought a test upon arrival after developing a sore throat. The test and a follow-up swab returned a 'weak positive' result.

The Ministry says 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 living in the Blenheim township are asked to monitor the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page.

"We are also asking Blenheim residents with symptoms – no matter how mild – to please get tested, even if they are vaccinated," the Ministry said in a statement.

Investigations into the source of the infection are underway. However, initial case interviews suggest the case is linked to the Te Awamutu cluster it said.

Officials say the current public health assessment is that the risk appears low given the individual’s likely late stage of infection.

The South Island has so far eluded the Covid-19 Delta outbreak which has seen Tāmaki locked down for more than 60 days.

The last Covid-19 community outbreak in the South Island was November 2020.

John Leggett, Marlborough’s Mayor says he is reassured by the region's relatively high vaccination rate.

“We already have a high vaccination rate in Marlborough – 78% per cent of those eligible have had two doses and 90% have had one dose," said Leggett.

“Fortunately this case is deemed low risk but people need to be vigilant and get tested if they have any symptoms.

“This is not the news we wanted to hear at the beginning of Labour Weekend. Marlborough has done it tough this year with lockdowns and a major storm event in mid-July.”

As of Friday, the South Island's lowest fully vaccinated rate is the West Coast with 62 percent, Canterbury is the second lowest at 64 percent.