A testing centre is being set up at a marae in New Zealand’s Waikato settlement of Kaiaua today after three community cases of covid-19 were confirmed in the region.
They are household members of a man with the virus who is in remand at Mount Eden prison in Auckland.
The Ministry of Health said two of the cases went to Mangatangi School and one had symptoms while there.
The National Māori Pandemic Group says the new cases mean Cabinet must keep Auckland at level 4 and include Waikato, and wants the upper North Island in level 3 as a precaution.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki says drive-in swabbing will be done at Wharekawa Marae in Whakatīwai.
The government is due to announce any possible alert level changes this afternoon and it is unclear how the development in Waikato will affect its decision.
‘Irresponsible,’ says mayor
Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said the prisoner should never have been bailed outside Auckland to the area where cases of covid-19 have now been discovered.
The prisoner spent more than a week there on electronically-monitored bail.
The infections were discovered after the man returned to prison in Auckland and tested positive for the virus.
Sanson told RNZ Morning Report it was “totally irresponsible” to send a prisoner on bail outside the lockdown boundary and into the small community.
“There needs to be questions asked as to why it actually happened,” he said.
“I would have thought if you were bailing somebody you would have bailed them into Auckland, and not out of the Auckland area.
“They don’t let anyone else out of Auckland into a level 2 area without them having tests now, so what’s the difference with this? This person’s been in the community for well over a week.”
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.