South Island strives to stop spread after Blenheim Covid case

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The streak of no community Covid-19 cases on the South Island ended over the weekend, prompting discussions on how to reduce the spread.

Old Blenheim station: the town is the first place on the South Island where a case of Covid-19 has been discovered in the town in nearly a year.
Photo: 123rf

The unvaccinated person flew from Rotorua to Blenheim late last week before testing positive.

Already, calls have been made for travelers to the South Island to undergo a pre-departure test and get vaccinated.

So far, three contacts from the Blenheim case have returned negative results and no one else has tested positive.

But Marlborough accommodation provider Shane Roughan said it had been a wake-up call after nearly a year without Covid in the South Island.

He was already noticing the impact of the Blenheim affair on his businesses.

It offered around 250 beds for backpackers and CSR workers and was bracing for a boost over the weekend from work.

“No one has come to the area. As if we were actually quite stunned that we had no contact, no calls, nothing to look for accommodation at all, which previously, although Covid has been around for some time now, us There would always be people inquiring and things like that. Whereas, we got nothing. “

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He would not rule out that only vaccinated people could travel to the South Island if the government gave him the green light.

“I would probably support this because the government said 90% is the immunization rate until things open up and there’s not really much we can do about it.

“If we can encourage anyone to get vaccinated, and if that means you can’t travel to and from the South Island without a vaccination, we would be happy to support that.

“We are not in a position to turn people away from our accommodation if they have not been vaccinated because this is just income that we cannot find elsewhere.”

Marlborough District Mayor John Leggett was pleased that no further cases had been reported in his district.

“There are sane people who follow the rules. There are some who don’t think it’s going to affect them and don’t think it’s going to affect our community, and these are the people that we really need to target, to make them know very clear terms – this is a potential health crisis in our region as it crosses the whole country, so be vigilant, following the rules. “

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“It was a great reminder for us. “

He wasn’t so keen on the idea of ​​travel to the South Island being limited to those vaccinated only.

“I’ve heard this from a few people… I’d rather see some tests before they get on the plane if there was a way to do it.

“But look, we know how easily it spread across the North Island from the Auckland region and it made its way to the South Island with the case we had here. this weekend, so there is still potential for that to happen. “

General manager of Highview Apartments in Queenstown and Marina Terrace Accommodation in Wānaka, Carlyn Topp, said she hopes Blenheim’s case will lead to more people being vaccinated and less complacency in the South Island.

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Vaccination warrants would be a logistically nightmare, but she could potentially see them used for some domestic travel, Topp said.

“We have to look further at what we have to put in place so that we can open up to (A) all of New Zealand so that we can continue to live and start living with her in the community. But (B) also be able to open up again internationally.

“Uncertainty is really hurting a lot of businesses. We’re all living week after week at the moment. If the government could put a plan in place, look at the end result that we want – we want to resume international travel – and work. our way home. “

When asked if vaccination entry could be on the cards, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins had a simple answer.

“We are not proposing to cut the South Island off from the rest of the country.”

All residents of Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman with symptoms are encouraged to get tested.

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