Twenty-eight of the anti-public health protesters who occupied New Zealand’s Parliament grounds over the past month have now tested positive for covid-19.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health said 11 district health boards had reported covid-19 cases from the protest, including Wairarapa, Waitematā, Waikato, Taranaki, Southern, MidCentral, Tairawhiti, Hutt Valley, Counties Manukau, Capital and Coast, and Canterbury.
“These people are thought to be protesters, although they have not been interviewed as they would have been prior to the recent changes in case investigation,” the statement said.
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“In phase 3 [of the Omicron response], cases are not routinely interviewed by health officials and are instead asked to fill out a contact tracing form.
“Only cases that are identified through their interaction with the health system can therefore be identified as having attended the protest.”
The ministry is urging all those who were at the 23-day occupation to get tested and vaccinated.
The ministry also reported 17,522 new cases of covid-19 in the community across New Zealand today with 696 people in hospital — 13 of them in ICU.
The average age of those in hospital was 57.
Meanwhile, Wellington City Council said most of the remaining protesters seemed to have left the capital over the weekend, except for a group at Mahanga Bay who were not on council land.
Work was well underway to remove rubbish, deep-clean, and repair damaged roads, street lights and sewer pipes, it said.
The Department of Conservation said there were no protesters left at its Catchpool Valley campsite in Remutaka Forest Park, which was now closed for cleaning.
Christchurch library shuts for two hours over protesters
In the South Island, Christchurch central city library shut for almost two hours this morning when 40 protesters who were stopped from entering refused to leave.
A council spokesperson said Tūranga was closed after a warning that a group linked to the Freedom and Rights Coalition might protest there.
The council was not considering increasing security staff in response to the incident.
A police spokesperson said the 40-strong group was refused entry to the library because they did not have vaccine passes.
Police arrived at the library, where the group stood outside for a while before leaving, but no one was arrested or trespassed from the building.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.