Long queues in South Auckland, New Plymouth as locals rush for Covid test

updated By Te Ao - Māori News

Papatoetoe High School was all geared up this morning for testing.

Three community cases found yesterday in South Auckland are the extra infectious UK variant but the source of the infection is still unknown.

The cases are a father, mother and daughter from Papatoetoe. The mother and daughter, and two others who have tested negative for the virus, visited New Plymouth at Waitangi Weekend.

The government moved Auckland to alert level 3 at 11.59pm on Sunday and the rest of the country moved to alert level 2 after the announcement.

Today cars were lined up from early morning both in South Auckland and New Plymouth as possible contacts sought testing.

Tāmaki Pai Herenga, which incorporates Whānau Ora providers from Papakura in South Auckland through to Kaipara in the north, has kicked into action to provide testing facilities for communities across Auckland. Te Whānau o Waipareira CEO John Tamihere says there were more than 200 swabs taken in the first two hours this morning.  

A regular stream of vehicles has been queuing at Papatoetoe High School after it was revealed one of the three family members - a young woman - attends the school. There are considered 50 close contacts of the student.

The school is closed for at least two days and the pop-up testing station is being used for students and families in the community.

New Plymouth busy

Traffic management has been set up outside the Taranaki Base Hospital Covid-19 testing centre in New Plymouth as the line up of cars spills out of the hospital grounds Traffic Safe New Zealand has set up cones to manage the flow, which is backing up traffic further down the street.

Meanwhile, police checkpoints have been set up at Auckland’s borders – and police soon found people trying to get around the closures. Also, at the northern border where towns such as Mangawhai, Kaiwaka and Oneriri are outside the Auckland supercity boundary, they are south of the police checkpoint located at Brynderwyn on State Highway 1.

The rest of New Zealand is at alert level 2 as a precaution.

Officials will hold a press conference at 4pm on Monday with the latest updates.

Meanwhile National leader Judith Collins says she feels “for the people who have already sacrificed their livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses to keep Covid-19 out."

She says National has been calling for an accelerated rollout of vaccinations for border workers and frontline staff since January “because we were acutely aware of the economic and social damage a third lockdown could cause.

"Avoiding this very scenario at all costs should have been the government's top priority, she says.

New test

The Ministry of Health is pleased with the uptake in bluetooth tracing. After starting on 351,430 bluetooth activations when the feature was launched on December 18, this figure increased steadily to 605,751 by January 24 before jumping sharply to 859,369 activations a day when the Northland case was announced.

By the end of this week, more than 930,000 Kiwis had activated bluetooth on the app.

Meanwhile, it was revealed today that Auckland International Airport is using a new saliva-based test on its workforce to try to prove it could replace invasive nasal swab testing - currently the only officially accepted type of covid screening test.

BusinessDesk has reported that the test, developed at the University of Illinois, has been licensed to New Zealand biomedical start-up Rako Science, which has been validating the test among Auckland airport workforce volunteers since mid-January. The test is expected to catch pre-infectious cases of covid-19 before they develop.

The Ministry of Health is trialling a different saliva test, developed at Yale University, in laboratories at the Crown-owned research institute, ESR, which has yet to be scientifically validated.