More positive Covid-19 results have been detected in Stratford’s wastewater – indicating it’s likely that an infectious person was in the area of the Taranaki town since the start of the month.
Taranaki DHB’s Public Health Unit today confirmed that two or three further wastewater results taken in Stratford came back positive.
While samples on Saturday and Sunday included positive results, no viral fragments were detected among samples on Monday.
Taranaki DHB’s medical officer of Health, Dr Jonathan Jarman, said the results were very concerning, given they pointed to an infected person being in the area since early November.
A “strong positive” was first confirmed on November 5.
“We are working on the assumption that the positive result was probably an infectious visitor or visitors to the region from an area where there is Covid-19,” Jarman said.
“The alternative is we have undetected community transmission in Stratford, but this seems less likely.
“The only way of really having confidence is to carry on testing the wastewater and testing people to ensure we don’t have widespread transmission in our region.”
The PHU was aware of several visitors to the region for the recent Taranaki Garden Festival, and other events.
Jarman said the unit was working with the Ministry of Health to send push notifications to users of the Covid-19 Tracer App who were in the region at selected events over the last 10 days.
“We’re also asking every garden owner who took part in the festival to monitor their health closely over the coming days and if they develop any cold or flu-like symptoms, even if they’re mild, to please go and get tested,” he said.
“It is also really important that businesses that catered for the visitors in the Stratford area keep a close eye on their health over the next couple of weeks.
“There is not a lot of flu-like illness at this time of the year so a cough or cold would be unusual and should be tested.”
Testing locations around the region are prepared for further demand and people are encouraged to get tested if they have any symptoms.
The Taranaki community was reminded to be extra vigilant while testing continues around the region and to follow health protocols with social distancing, wearing masks, hand sanitising, and getting vaccinated.
Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke also said it was important people continue to follow all Covid-19 protocols around masking, scanning in and social distancing.
“I am pleased the results have come in at last, and it is certainly reassuring the most recent sample has tested as negative,” he said.
“However, until the source of this has been identified, it’s important people continue to get tested if they feel unwell or have any flu-like symptoms.”
In contrast wastewater tests taken on November 8 from Hawera, Kaponga, Opunake, Patea, Manaia and Waverley were all clear of viral fragments.
Of more than 1000 Covid-19 tests carried out in the region over the weekend, none have so far returned positive results.
Nationally, ESR wastewater surveillance at 111 sites turned up positive results at 28 locations in the week to November 6, the latest data shows.
While most of those were within Auckland and Waikato, there were also three positive detections in Christchurch, one in Napier, one in Gisborne, and one each in Oponini and Rawene in Northland.
Subsequent testing did not detect the virus in samples collected in Gisborne or Napier on November 8.
ESR described a positive as indicating that at least one person had been shedding the virus into the wastewater in the 24 hours before each sample was collected.
“Just as a negative finding does not necessarily guarantee an absence of Covid-19 in the community, a positive finding does not necessarily mean that active Covid-19 infections are present in the community,” ESR said.
“A positive detection in the wastewater could also be due to a case in a managed isolation facility and/or a non-infectious historical case or a non-infectious recently recovered case who is still shedding low levels of Sars-CoV-2.”
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