Southern people urged to get tested as rates drop

Dr Susan Jack. Photo: supplied
Dr Susan Jack. Photo: supplied
The only way the South can be sure it is Covid-19 free is if people get tested, Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack says.

Dr Jack is urging people in Southland and Otago to remain vigilant as Auckland moves from Alert Level 4 to Level 3.

It was more important than ever for people in the South to stay home and get tested if they had Covid-19 symptoms.

Dr Jack's call for more testing comes as rates fall since the start of the latest outbreak. According to Ministry of Health data, numbers of Covid-19 tests in the Southern District Health Board area dropped from 4905 in the week from August 23 to 29 to 1697 last week.

Dr Jack said there was still a risk Covid-19 could make it into Otago and Southland.

‘‘The borders are well managed, but are not watertight, Covid is a tricky virus and we can’t be complacent, so Covid-19 testing is extremely important to ensure there is no community transmission in the district.’’

She also stressed the importance of people following Level 2 rules.

‘‘We know the Delta strain is highly infectious, and can spread by airborne transmission to infect someone within seconds.

‘‘So please wear a mask when you leave the house where you can’t distance, when you are in the premises where a mask is required under Alert Level 2, remember to scan everywhere you go, and don’t forget the importance of good hand hygiene.’’

Dr Jack is also urging anyone who is eligible and who has not yet been vaccinated to book their first vaccination this week.

‘‘So far 78.3% of eligible Southern residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, and 43.5% are fully vaccinated.

‘‘Southerners have done a fantastic job in getting vaccinated but we need everyone who is eligible to do their bit and have the vaccine so we can get to 90% or higher as soon as possible.’’

She said increased vaccinations would allow people to enjoy outdoor events, such as festivals.

‘‘Young people, please go and get vaccinated if you haven’t already. You still have a bit more vaccinating to do to catch up with our older people, so if we all want to move down alert levels and enjoy summer events, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated now.’’

Vaccinations were available from general practices, pharmacies and Maori and Pacific health agencies.

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