Live Updates: Latest on the community outbreak of COVID-19, protest in Parliament – Monday 21 February

9:08 – Northern Region Health Coordination Center Operations Manager Matt Hannant told AM on Monday that demand was very high for opening day testing of Aucklanders having access to rapid testing for antigen (RAT).

On Sunday, the Department of Health announced that Aucklanders who meet certain requirements will be offered a rapid antigen test (RAT) at testing sites from Monday.

The Ministry of Health says testing sites will determine if a RAT or PCR is best. Access to RATs will also expand over the coming week.

“What we are seeing is very high demand for testing across Auckland, so our rolling average is 27,000 tests per day,” Hannant said.

“If you come to one of our community testing sites, our teams will ask you a series of questions and make a decision, so some people will get a PCR and some will get a RAT.

“Just to remind people that you only need to get tested if you’re symptomatic, a close contact, or have been told to get tested by a healthcare professional. So generally people who are susceptible to contract a RAT are close contacts but not symptomatic and a few other exceptions we are looking at.

“What we have is some flexibility on sites so we can balance needs and make sure we’re targeting the right people.

“People who need it will get a PCR test, so if you come here and usually if you’ve had a positive RAT result, we’ll give you a PCR. If you’re symptomatic and a close contact, you’ll get the most positive PCR. ‘other people will get a RAT test.’

Balmoral’s test center is inundated with cars on Monday morning and Hannant told AM that while demand is high, they have enough RATs to meet that demand.

“Right now the focus is on symptomatic people, people who are close contacts, people at high risk,” he said.

“As we’re in phase 2, it’s really about protecting the vulnerable people in the community and making sure the system has the protection it needs and that we’re not overloading our resources, the testing strategy was designed to meet this.

“We know that the majority of people who get Omicron will have a milder disease and we also know that if you are vaccinated and asymptomatic you are less likely to pass it on to other people.

“That’s why we’re really focusing on those most at risk and making sure we’re protecting those high-risk, vulnerable environments as well.”

8:38 – Police provided an update on their traffic management operation on Monday morning which saw a standoff between officers and protesters.

Here is the full statement from the police:

“Police this morning put up hard concrete barriers on the main roads around the perimeter of Parliament House, containing the protest activity in Wellington’s CBD,” police said.

“Around 3.30 a.m., staff began installing the barriers at eight locations around Parliament. The operation, involving around 300 staff and large-scale equipment to install the barriers, will enable police to prevent further growth vehicles in the protest area, and maintaining access for residents, businesses and emergency vehicles.

“A handful of protesters were arrested while the operation was underway. However, police were able to install the barriers with minimal disruption.

“Several road closures and diversions are in place for vehicular traffic near Parliament. We ask commuters to allow extra travel time to account for traffic delays.

“Pedestrians will still be able to enter and exit the area. Police will be stationed at each roadblock to facilitate legitimate vehicle access. Protesters’ vehicles will be permitted to leave the area but may not re-enter once they are gone.

“We will continue to maintain a highly visible and reassuring presence at the site, and staff are engaging with the public and protesters to provide advice and, if necessary, take enforcement action.

“Anyone who abuses or intimidates members of the public can expect to be arrested, fired and face charges. Police will continue to work with key protest leaders to resolve any issues.”

The locations of the barriers are:

  • hill street
  • Rear end of the Houses of Parliament on Ballantrae Place
  • Molesworth Street near Pipitea Street
  • Murphy Street / Aitken Street
  • Kate Sheppard Square
  • Bunny Street near the station
  • Corner of Whitmore Street and Lambton Quay, at the bottom of Bowen Street
  • Lambton Quay / Mulgrave Street

About Michael C. Lovelace

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