POSITIVE TEST: The Opotiki man was tested at the Covid-19 Whakatane Assessment Centre and returned a positive result. File photo

OPOTIKI Mayor Lyn Riesterer has confirmed the Eastern Bay’s first case of Covid-19 is within her town.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 797 confirmed and probable cases of the virus in New Zealand including 32 in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Disrict. Of these, 20 are in the Western Bay, seven in Rotorua, four in Taupo and one in the Eastern Bay.

Ms Riesterer spoke with the affected person’s partner, an Opotiki man aged in his 70s, this morning and said they were doing everything right and recovering in isolation at home.

“They have recently returned from overseas and followed all instructions and instantly put themselves under self-isolation,” she said.

“When symptoms started showing they got tested at Whakatane and while they tested positive their partner did not.

“They are doing everything they can and are doing everything right.”

Ms Riesterer said, so far, the couple had received no backlash within the small community and in fact had received support from those who knew them and “good follow-up” from their friendship group.

“They live fairly isolated anyway, but are following all the government guidelines while recovering,” she said.

Ms Riesterer said overall her community had handled the lockdown well and there seemed to be good compliance with government directives.

“You have to give credit to the community,” she said.

Opotiki Mayor
Lyn Riesterer

“They are a caring, staunch lot and that in itself is helping us all through. People are being very respectful.”

“Overall, I think everyone in the Eastern Bay is pulling together and everyone is handling it all very well.”

The man is one of two cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the Bay of Plenty on Tuesday, having arrived in the country on a flight from the United States on March 24.

Earlier this week, Medical officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack told the Beacon he did not know which part of the Bay the Covid-19 case was from and even if he did it would not be prudent to divulge details as with small towns such as Opotiki and Kawerau, or even Ohope, it would be easy to identify the person.

“At this stage we don’t have that many cases and in weeks to come the numbers will only go up.”

He said it was not only to protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals that it was important not to reveal these details.

“The other reason for not giving too many numbers is the real risk that people will over interpret and think we have had only one case in the Eastern Bay, we don’t need to worry.

“Well, this is a pandemic, it is an infectious disease, and every part of the country is at significant risk and therefore every neighbourhood, every street every household needs to take the same precautions,” he said.

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