All of the 374 asymptomatic people tested for Covid-19 in the Waitaki district last week returned negative results.
WellSouth carried out testing at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church and Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works last week to see if there was undetected community transmission occurring, information crucial for deciding if New Zealand should move to Alert Level 2.
Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack said the targeted testing focused on health care and other essential workers, Maori and Pacific people and those with a history of international travel.
The negative results were cause for increased confidence there were unlikely to be any undetected cases in the Southern district, she said.
“Thanks to the collective dedication of our Southern community staying at home, social distancing, good hygiene and doing the right thing,” Dr Jack said.
“I really encourage people to keep it going and not be tempted to relax their vigilance, so together we can stamp out Covid-19 in Southern.”
The negative results, and the fact Waitaki had no cases of Covid-19 overall, was positive news for the district, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said.
“We have come through pretty well,” Mr Kircher said.
“We have certainly been lucky, combined with enough people doing the right thing.”
Mr Kircher said 99% of people in Waitaki had followed the lockdown rules, which had been a factor in the district remaining Covid-19 free.
However, the containment of the virus had come at an economic cost, he said.
“Once international tourism stopped it was always going to be a challenge,” he said.
“That is why it is so important that we shop locally and support our local businesses as much as we can.”
The worst thing that could happen to local businesses now was uncontained spread of Covid-19, he said.
“The whole country has taken an economic hit and the last thing we want to do is have that turned into wasted money, and wasted effort by so many people.
“As long as businesses and people generally do the right thing, we will get through the next stage.
“People don’t want to go through the Level 4 lockdown again.”