Supermarket staffer tests positive for Covid-19

A staff member at a New World supermarket has tested positive for Covid-19, prompting Northland public health officials to urge anyone who has shopped at the store to keep an eye on their health.

Northland District Health Board is advising anyone who shopped at the supermarket between March 20 and 30 to check themselves for symptoms of the virus, following contact tracing conducted on the latest confirmed case.

Foodstuffs head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird confirmed a team member from New World Kaikohe recently tested positive for coronavirus.

"As soon as the store was alerted, their immediate team members were tested as a precaution and were sent home to self-isolate," Laird said.

"A deep clean of the department and the wider store was undertaken overnight.

"Team members who worked closely with the staff member will remain at home until their test results come back and confirm each individual's status is negative. We are doing everything we can to support all of our team at New World Kaikohe at this time."

Laird said the owner of New World Kaikohe is working closely with NDHB and is taking their guidance on what additional steps need to be taken.

The district health board has advised the risk to other staff members and the public is considered low, she said.

She urged people to only visit the supermarket when absolutely necessary.

"It is not a social occasion and we ask the public to limit the number of visits and time they spend in-store to help us minimise the risk to all."

NDHB medical officer of health Dr Catherine Jackson said people should stay at home if they are not well.

"While I acknowledge our community will feel concerned, you only need to be tested if you have symptoms of Covid-19," Jackson said.

Supermarkets are essential services during alert level 4 of the Covid-19 response and lockdown.

"There are things you can do to keep yourself and your whānau safe when accessing essential services," Jackson said.

"Only go [to the supermarket] when you really need to, wash your hands when you get home and keep social distancing. If possible, have just one person from your bubble run errands."

Former Kaitaia Hospital GP Tom Mulholland said people should be careful when shopping and only pick up items they intend to buy.

Mulholland - who runs mobile health clinics around the country including in Northland – said though catching the virus by touching groceries "would be commonplace" it would still be less problematic than people coughing or sneezing on others.

"If people are handling things and putting them back, then that's the most likely place people will catch the virus as it does live on inanimate objects for a little while," he said.

Meanwhile, Ngāpuhi have opened a new iwi-led community testing station in Kaikohe.

NDHB now has seven community-based testing centres throughout Northland. The others are in Whangārei, Dargaville, Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Kawakawa and Rawene.

The new initiative was launched on Friday at 16 Mangakahia Rd and will continue until further notice.

It was set up by Te Hau Ora ō Ngāpuhi, as part of Te Rūnanga-a-Iwi ō Ngāpuhi in partnership with Broadway Health Centre and has support from Mahitahi Hauora.

Residents who meet certain criteria, which are the same as at other testing stations, will be tested for Covid-19.

This includes people with acute respiratory infection and at least one of the following symptoms; cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, head cold, loss of sense of smell with or without fever.

Ngāpuhi chairwoman Mere Mangu said she was pleased the testing station was up and running.

"It's a collaborative approach for making it work for our people and the whole community, not just for Māori," she said.

"It's got to be a community-directed effort due to the nature of this thing. The virus doesn't know boundaries, so we have to stand together."

Mangu said 58 people were tested on Friday and the station was open again yesterday due to the district health board announcement about the New World test result.

It will normally be open Monday to Friday, 8.30am-4pm.

Mangu said she was thrilled with the calibre of staffing and the community response.

Te Hau Ora ō Ngāpuhi is also offering referrals to social support where required.

This will ensure the clinical team can identify and address social needs that an individual and their whānau are facing during the lockdown period.

If you think you need a Covid-19 test, phone 0800 Ngapuhi (642 7844).

If you need medical advice, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 or your GP, and only leave home if you need to see a doctor.








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