Northland District Health Board is investigating a case where a person tested for Covid-19 at the Community Testing Centre in Whangārei on Monday.
The person returned a weak positive result, which may turn out to be a false positive.
A repeat test has been organised. The person is an essential worker who was asymptomatic when tested and the test was a nasopharyngeal surveillance test.
“It is only a matter of time before Northland has a positive Covid-19 case and it is imperative that everyone who can is vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible,” chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain says.
“Even if it doesn’t turn out to be positive, this would be the second near-miss in the last week after a case last week in the Far North that turned out not to be infectious while up here.
“We’ve seen in nearly every other country in the world what happens when the virus rolls through a community of unvaccinated people, and it’s grim.”
Of the 164,526 eligible people (12 years and older) there are still 60,000 people to be vaccinated in Northland. 66,639 people have had two doses and 37,780 have received one dose.
What could happen
Recent scientific modelling gives a grim outline of how things might look with various vaccination coverage levels in the population.
If 70 per cent of Northland's population were vaccinated, 60,000 to 80,000 Northlanders would become infected with Covid-19 over two years.
In addition, more than 100 would die – probably the most at-risk Northlanders who are older or have underlying health conditions.
Hospitalisations would peak at 200, putting considerable strain on the health system.
The wait for Northlanders to access healthcare such as hip replacements, cataract surgeries and some cancer treatments would be prolonged.
At 90 per cent, there would still be an impact that would have to be carefully managed, with the number of people affected significantly reduced.
About 4000 Northlanders would be infected with Covid-19, two people at any one time would be hospitalised, and approximately 10 people would lose their lives to the virus.
The more vaccinated Northlanders get, the less the impact and the harder it would be for the virus to hang around.
“Vaccination is our best protection against Covid-19. You can’t keep relying on lockdowns and staying in our communities hoping it won’t affect you, because it will find you!” Dr Chamberlain says.
“Remember, the Covid-19 delta virus is seeking out unvaccinated people who have no resistance to it. The higher our vaccination rates, the fewer restrictions we’ll need to keep the virus under control.”
Covid-19 vaccination clinics are available throughout Northland, at general practice, pharmacy, māori health providers and DHB clinics.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for our whole community that as many of us are vaccinated as possible,” he says.
To find out where Covid-19 vaccination clinics are in Northland go to the HealthPoint website.
No appointment is required but, if someone wants to make an appointment, they can book via Book My Vaccine.