261 seasonal workers in Te Puke who were tested for COVID-19 have returned negative tests. The workers tested were ‘casual contacts’ of a recent confirmed case. That person was a staff member at an accommodation provider.

Dr Joe Bourne, who is in charge of the Bay of Plenty DHB’s Community-Based Health Services response, says they are still waiting for the last few tests to come back: “A small number of results are pending due to the swabs needing to be retaken. This occurs from time to time for technical reasons and is unsurprising in such a large number of samples.”

The last few results should come back in the next 48 hours.

He says the remaining tests are no higher risk than any of the reported results. The DHB has given workers the results that are available now so they are not left with any unnecessary uncertainty.

Dr Bourne said he hoped the large number of negative results would reassure the Te Puke community.

 “These workers are a long way from home and they are doing vital work in the community so we were really pleased to be able to deliver the negative test results to them.”

Joe Bourne says the Te Puke testing response should give people confidence that the Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC) teams can always mobilise to a specific area when required.

 In this case, a temporary assessment clinic was set up within the accommodation specifically to test the people staying there. “We had great collaboration with the kiwifruit industry to support the workers and we were able to deliver a really efficient assessment process that has given a result that should give the community confidence.”

The workers’ testing was a precautionary measure only. They were considered at low risk of infection because they had not been close contacts of the affected staff member. However, in line with the Ministry of Health’s surveillance programme to determine if there is any community spread, these people were tested. 

All Close contacts of the person who tested positive have been tested and all their results were negative.

 Simon Everitt, Interim CEO of Bay of Plenty DHB says the risk of COVID-19 in the Bay of Plenty remains low with a small number of cases, but assessment centres remain open over the long weekend.  Anyone who has symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever should go to a CBAC to be swabbed.  Once they are tested anyone with symptoms must remain at home, and not go to work, until the result of their test is known.

More surveillance testing is likely to occur over the coming weeks. This will be done under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Toi Te Ora Public Health.

The Community Based Testing Centres are open this weekend

Tauranga: Trustpower Baypark Stadium, Truman Lane Mt Maunganui

Whakatane: Whakatane War Memorial Hall, Short St