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Time will tell whether new Covid case in Christchurch will spread, experts say

People getting tested at Orchard Rd testing station after a Covid-19 case was reported in Christchurch.

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People getting tested at Orchard Rd testing station after a Covid-19 case was reported in Christchurch.

New testing will show if there’s a high risk the new Covid-19 case in Christchurch will become a cluster, public health experts say.

The community case, which was confirmed by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, tested positive for the virus after attending a tangi for an immediate relative in Auckland.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the infected person lived in a household of six in southeast Christchurch.

“Interviews are continuing to determine any links to previously confirmed cases.”

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The person flew back to Christchurch on Saturday on flight NZ1295. They became symptomatic on Sunday and went for a test on Monday.

Three pupils at Te Waka Unua School in Woolston have been moved to a managed isolation facility after their mother tested positive for Covid-19.

Principal Janeane Reid said the pupils had not attended school since their mother was exposed to the virus.

Professor Nick Wilson says there are so many variations with Covid-19 that it is hard to predict the risk on a case-by-case basis.

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Professor Nick Wilson says there are so many variations with Covid-19 that it is hard to predict the risk on a case-by-case basis.

Two locations of interest in Linwood on two different days have been identified: Eastgate Mall and Countdown Eastgate on Saturday and Monday. The suburb of east Linwood has a fully vaccinated rate of 73.5 per cent, compared to 82.6 per cent for Canterbury as a whole.

Public health expert Michael Baker said the case was “potentially risky”, but test results for household members would give an indication of whether the new case was infectious.

“The family members are the ones at the high risk of infection.”

Victoria Scott, 24, got tested at Orchard Rd testing station in Christchurch on Wednesday.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Victoria Scott, 24, got tested at Orchard Rd testing station in Christchurch on Wednesday.

University of Otago professor Nick Wilson said it was hard to predict how risky the new case was for Christchurch.

“It is concerning if the vaccination rates in that area are lower relative to the rest of Christchurch.

“There is a big factor of chance in how these individual cases spread.”

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Victoria Scott, 24, decided to get tested for Covid-19 after a visiting friend found out he had been on the same flight as the positive Christchurch case reported on Wednesday.

Linwood ward councillor Yani Johanson said it was encouraging that the Covid positive person got tested “straight away” but it was concerning that vaccination rates in the east weren’t as high as other areas.

He wanted the Ministry of Health to provide more information about the case, like the suburb they came from and whether they had a customer-facing job.

Christchurch East MP Poto Williams said it was “hugely disappointing” to have a case in the community.

“We just really encourage people to take the opportunity now to get tested and get vaccinated and do what they can to protect themselves.”

The ministry said additional capacity had been added to the current community testing centres on Orchard Rd and Pages Rd in Christchurch. Referrals were not required.

Orchard Rd testing centre manager Karyn Bainbridge said Wednesday was not busier than any normal day, but there had been a rise in people getting tested since the last community cases were reported in Christchurch in October.

A woman in her 50s and a man in his 40s from the same household tested positive on October 27. Two more people – contacts of the first cases – were confirmed to have Covid-19 in the following days, but the outbreak was contained.

Victoria Scott, 24, decided to get tested on Wednesday after a visiting friend found out he was on the same flight as the new positive case.

“He must’ve been alerted on [his phone]. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

The Canterbury District Health Board’s Covid-19 response senior officer, Dr Helen Skinner, said more than 100 community vaccination clinics were open throughout Canterbury.

The drive-through vaccination clinic at Christchurch Arena in Addington was open until 7.30pm every weeknight, and a pop-up vaccination event was in the car park at New World Ferry Rd on Thursday and Friday from midday until 6.30pm.



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