Covid cases in Nelson rise as original link remains unclear

Nelson Marlborough Health interim chief executive Lexie O'Shea and chief medical officer Dr Nick Baker at a press conference in Nelson about the Covid-19 outbreak.

Braden Fastier/Stuff

Nelson Marlborough Health interim chief executive Lexie O’Shea and chief medical officer Dr Nick Baker at a press conference in Nelson about the Covid-19 outbreak.

How Nelson’s growing Covid-19 outbreak originated is still unclear but the region should expect more cases, say top health officials.

The Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer of health, Dr Nick Baker, and interim chief executive Lexie O’Shea held a media conference on Thursday afternoon as cases in the Nelson outbreak rose to 14 and two schools were closed.

Baker said there will two clusters, one containing 11 cases and the other three, but “exactly how that pans out is still to be clearly determined.”

“Covid is here,” he said. “Expect case numbers to increase but it’s something been planning for.”

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He said those affected so far did not have severe enough symptoms to be hospitalised. But cases with even mild symptoms could be serious if they passed on the virus to immunocompromised or unvaccinated people.

The Nelson Marlborough Health leaders say the region's health services have been preparing for a long time to deal with the outbreak.

BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF

The Nelson Marlborough Health leaders say the region’s health services have been preparing for a long time to deal with the outbreak.

He said officials did not have clarity about how Covid got into the Nelson community. “We don’t know how these cases got to Nelson.”

It was still early in the outbreak. Finding cases was like tracing a ripple in a pond “and we don’t exactly know where the stone landed”.

Baker said the region’s health services were vastly better prepared than during the first Covid outbreak last year when there was no vaccine that could prevent infections.

“It reduces a lot of concern for staff. We have been preparing for this for a long time.”

He thanked cases and close contacts for their co-operation which were critical to determining places of interest and contacts.

The number of household or close contacts often depended on the circles people moved in. It was not uncommon for Covid to spread in household or work contexts, but there may be other connections through sport.

Others in the community “absolutely” needed to get any symptoms tested for Covid. “The sooner we find cases, the sooner we can stop the virus in its tracks.

“The community knows to double down and take precautions to make life hard for Covid.”

Baker said there had been no warning from wastewater tests and he didn’t know how frequently those tests were carried out.

Enner Glynn School and Broadgreen Intermediate were closed on Thursday after one staff member at each tested positive for Covid on Wednesday. Baker said they were working out how many children were close or more distant contacts.

Asked why locations of interest in the outbreak were taking a long time to be listed, Baker said they were “uploaded as we know them”.

More to come

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