'Man did not have Covid-19 while he was in prison' - Correction says

By Taroi Black

Maori health provider Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki spent today testing local residents at Wharekawa Marae in Whakatiwai.

Three communities in the Firth of Thames are on high alert following the discovery of three community cases linked to a man who spent more than a week there on bail.

The infections were discovered when the man returned to prison in Auckland and tested positive for the virus.

One is a child who was symptomatic last week while at Mangatangi School.

The school roll has just over 100 students, of whom a third are Maori. Staff, students and their families have been asked to get tested and isolate.

Te Korowai chief executive Riana Manuel says there is an incubation period of 14 days from the first day of someone getting a positive Covid result.

Local lockdown

“That's the period we require before we know for certain the person hasn't got Covid.”

All three cases are contacts of the man who spent more than a week there on bail. He tested positive when he was returned to prison in Auckland.

He came into close contact with seven Corrections staff, six of whom have received their results showing negative tests and six prisoners who are now isolating.

Department of Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales said the man was released from Mt Eden Corrections Facility on September 8 after being granted electronically monitored bail by the court.

He had been in custody since April and was allowed to travel across the Auckland Alert Level boundary.  Corrections had followed his GPS records showing four stops before he reached his bail address at Whakatiwai.

Vaccinate the vulnerable

Two of the stops was to private addresses in Mt Albert and Mangere, one to a supermarket in Pokeno and one stop on the side of the road close to his bail address. 

"We are confident that the man did not have Covid-19 while he was in prison," Beales says. 

New inmates must go through a 14-day quarantine and are tested on arrival on days 5 and 12 before they are let into the facility with longer-serving prisoners.

"On the day of his release the man was given his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and fitted with an electronic monitoring device before leaving the prison."

His bail conditions required him to be collected by a family member and travel to the bail address without any unnecessary stops, and he left the prison at 10.09am.

“The feeling generally from the community is one of feeling anxious, concerned and worried about whether there's community transmission happening.”

Meanwhile, health researcher Dr Rawiri Taonui said on Te Ao Tapatahi today the cases show just how long and strong the Delta strain can be, and how high the risk is if lockdown measures don't work. As of today, there are 22 new cases despite Auckland dropping its Alert from level 4 to level 3 tomorrow night.

He says as of last week  Māori and Pasifika make up 86.9% of cases.

“Vaccinating our vulnerable communities is the way to go,” Dr Taonui said. “The government is a bit late coming to the party but it is there now and it needs to support the initiative coming out of our communities.”