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Board chairman Pete Hodgson twice asked about progress regarding a building in Kaikorai during yesterday’s community and public health advisory committee meeting, in the context of the board’s response to the Delta outbreak of Covid-19.
No community cases of Delta had been detected in the South as yet, but health officials had consistently warned it was a matter of when, not if, the disease would arrive in Otago and Southland.
The region does not have a managed isolation or quarantine facility, which was highlighted earlier this year when several crew members on a container vessel docked at Bluff tested Covid-positive.
The SDHB had to arrange the transfer of several of the sailors to Christchurch, a lengthy round-trip for its staff, as well as find secure accommodation for some crew members ashore.
In September, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment lodged a request for proposal for a firm to handle transfers of southern Covid-19 positive people to Christchurch, but the arrival of Delta has meant DHBs, including Southern, were preparing to deal with cases on their own.
Dunedin Hospital was designated the main centre for treatment of Covid-19 patients, but other hospitals may also be called upon if needed.
Mr Hodgson would not confirm what the Kaikorai premises would be used for, or if it might be a place for people to safely isolate until recovered.
‘‘We are making an effort to manage people in the community, there is no secret about that,’’ Mr Hodgson said.
‘‘I shouldn’t be talking to you about what it is because we have to finish talking to the owners first.’’
Mr Hodgson said he expected it would be a week before the board could say more.
‘‘At this stage it is commercially sensitive.’’
WellSouth opens its new Dunedin drive-through/walk-in Covid-19 testing centre today in the former Pizza Hut building at 5 Malcolm St.
It was chosen due to its proximity to the University of Otago and Dunedin Hospital.
‘‘It will provide additional testing capacity and help support general practices and other teams who are providing swabbing,’’ a WellSouth spokeswoman said.
It will open from 11am-7pm, seven days a week.
Testing would be available and free for anyone who met health ministry criteria for Covid-19 testing, having cold and flu-like symptoms, having been at a location of interest, or being contacted by a tracing team.
A similar centre is planned to open in Invercargill later this month.
‘‘WellSouth is prepared to support further testing ... or to create pop-up testing centres in other locations [if required].’’