Residents of Stewart Island are “a resilient bunch” and taking news that a preschooler returned a low positive test for Covid-19 to the island “in their step.”
Island City Councilor Bruce Ford said he and his wife went to a contextual testing center to get their swabs, but after negative results from the child’s family, the community was pretty confident they were just following protocol.
“We don’t expect anything out of the ordinary [from the results]Ford said.
The child’s family had originally undergone pre-departure testing prior to travel when the low positive was returned. The rest of the family tested negative and repeat tests were negative as well.
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Many in the community were learning about the situation as they went along, Ford said, adding that they were a resilient group.
“We’re used to all kinds of things. We’re strong, healthy people,” Ford said.
It was business as usual on the island. “We continue the day as usual,” he said.
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Authorities were unable to identify any possible source of infection “and given the community’s relative isolation, health officials currently believe it is very likely that the person is not a case,” a statement said. from the Ministry of Health.
As a precaution, a daycare center on the island has been closed for the remainder of the week and possible contacts have been asked to self-isolate until further information is available.
The daycare, operating under the name Rakiura Rugrats, directed all media inquiries to the Southern District Health Board.
At a press conference Thursday, Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Stewart Island case was a very weak positive result in a child and officials felt it was acted as a false positive.
However, since it was an isolated community, testing would be done on all children at the daycare on the island, where the child was attending, he said.
The family had originally undergone pre-departure pre-trip testing when the low positive was returned. The rest of the family tested negative and the repeat tests were negative as well, Bloomfield said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provide an update on the overall deployment of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
A weakly positive result is treated as a “presumptive positive” result – presumed positive and generally classified as such, until information suggests otherwise.
When asked if the Stewart Island case could be “a hangover from Cluster Bluff”, Bloomfield replied that “it is a possibility”.
“We know during the lockdown period of last year we probably had a number of cases in the country that we never identified because we went into lockdown, transmission stopped, but there are historical cases that we have detected in people. who were clearly infected at that time and it may be one of those, but it seems unlikely at this point, ”Bloomfield said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “serology will tell”.
A testing station opened in a community center at 1 p.m.
“The results of serological tests, expected later today, will provide more information as part of the ongoing investigation,” said the ministry statement.
“Given the isolated nature of the community, DHB is now sending additional field staff to Stewart Island to perform testing, primarily for people in the community with symptoms and anyone related to the daycare. It is expected that all local residents seeking testing can be accommodated. The results of further testing are expected today.
WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said six staff members had been sent to the island to begin community testing.
Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said he was briefed by the Department of Health of the situation at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
“I was advised a young [on the island] tested positive, and came back on the second test as negative. “
Stewart Island was an isolated community, but a lot of people were coming and going to the island, he said.
Real Journeys chief executive Paul Norris said there had been a few cancellations since the low-positive test was announced.
“We are happy to change the reservation or reimburse anyone with concerns about their trip to the island,” he said.
Staff had been offered support but were familiar with Covid-19 protocols as the ferry had operated as an essential service during the nationwide lockdown, he said.
Invercargill Airport General Manager Nigel Finnerty said there had been no flight cancellations between Invercargill and Stewart Island.
According to the latest census data, there are 408 permanent residents on Stewart Island.
In a media statement, the Southern District Health Board asked residents who showed cold or flu symptoms to get tested at the pop-up clinic.
Southern DHB medical officer of health Dr Michael Butchard said the clinic, run by staff from WellSouth and Southern DHB, was being held after an undetermined test result for Covid-19.
“The result is under investigation and these steps are taken as a precautionary measure while we seek further information,” he said.
People who attended or visited the daycare were also asked to be tested – even if they were not showing symptoms, he said.