Empty streets, supermarket queues, crowding around the television for the 1pm update and the return to the bubble. We have been here before – it is familiar yet different. Welcome to Lockdown Central 2.0. The News reporters look at how we are coping as the country tries to put a stop to Covid-19 Delta.
First time round, lockdown felt like a novelty, a chance to catch up on great novels, learn new skills and emerge fitter, hotter and more learned.
When the chat was about sourdough starters and all being in it together and we’ve got this always the nagging suspicion we might not.
Then, the Covid-19 Delta strain changed everything and required action to stop this strain in its tracks.
Figures released by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) showed Otago and Southland passed 200,000 Covid-19 vaccinations in the past week.
That means 50% of the population in the Southern district over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 37% are fully vaccinated.
In Central Otago and the Upper Clutha areas that number was believed to be higher, as vaccination groups were being called on ahead of the national schedule and were charting ahead of the national rollout.
Health Central Alexandra general manager Jenaya Smith said the practice had developed a plan to continue vaccinations, regardless of which alert level was in place.
“For us, going into lockdown was inevitable, so there was a lot of planning around that.
“It was never a case of if but when.”
A triage system was in place and both Covid testing and vaccinations were taking place from cabins placed in the practice’s Tarbert St car park, Ms Smith said.
While that meant no-one would be turned away, prebooking was encouraged to fast-track the process.
“If we know you’re coming we can get all the paperwork done.”
For the foreseeable future vaccination clinics would be running almost daily, including weekends.
There was an increased demand for vaccines and the practice was well resourced to run additional vaccination clinics, should the SDHB and vaccine supply allow for that.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week the practice was running a “bring your bubble” vaccination campaign, asking people in a family bubble to bring anyone aged 12 years or over from their bubble to be vaccinated at the same time.
The practice was delivering about 500 doses each week and demand for vaccinations had increased since Alert Level 4, Ms Smith said.
On Sunday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced mandatory sign-ins were being introduced for busy places and large gatherings to ramp up contact tracing.
This followed on from face masks becoming mandatory for all staff and customers at places deemed an essential service on August 18 at 11.50pm.
Epidemiologists strongly pushed for their use as a result of the Delta variant arriving on our shores in June.
High compliance of mask wearing has been observed across Central Otago and the Upper Clutha.