Covid 19 coronavirus: South Auckland ponders next steps in pandemic battle

Within minutes of new Covid community cases being revealed, a South Auckland dairy owner fielded calls from worried friends, and supermarket customers wondered if their toddler would be safe at daycare.

News a Papatoetoe High School student and her parents tested positive for Covid-19 left people in South Auckland feeling anxious.

Between the early afternoon community case announcement and the Prime Minister’s 7pm lockdown address, locals were already weighing up lockdown risks and merits.

Near Papatoetoe High School, local man Shiu Lingam raced to Beverly Hills Superette to return a friend’s car he’d been working on.

Lingam said he returned the car as soon as hearing of the new cases, partly because he didn’t know if another lockdown was imminent.

His friend, superette owner Dilip, was fielding a flurry of calls from friends about Covid-19.

Dilip said he hoped the people who contracted Covid had diligently scanned their check-in apps at every business they’d visited.

Both men said they were worried about the new cases. For Dilip’s superette, the nearby school closure would mean a downturn in business.

“Most of the parents come and drop their kids in the area,” Dilip said.

He said at least the contact-tracing seemed to have confirmed the locations of interest where people with Covid-19 had been.

Lingam said nobody wanted another lockdown but if a shutdown was necessary, the community would have to accept it.

Pak ‘n Save on Cavendish Drive has been designated a location of interest for any customers who visited between 3.45 and 5pm on Friday.

Anyone who attended the supermarket was asked to stay at home, get tested on Monday and call Healthline on 08003585453.

One young family outside the Manukau supermarket said the new cases made them anxious about sending their boy to daycare tomorrow.

“One the teachers that works there, apparently their child goes to Papatoetoe High School,” the boy’s mother said.

She said the new cases should shake New Zealand out of any complacency.

She said she’d be more diligent about scanning in with the Covid tracer app now, as the pandemic could flare up quickly.

“Maybe a lockdown would be good to stop it.”

“We are pretty lucky over here,” her husband said.

But he said the new cases might have a high number of casual and close contacts.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” the boy’s father said. “It’s not a small school.”

He said the community could not afford to be lax about Covid-19.

“People are coming in every day from overseas, from the hotspot countries.”

Outside the supermarket, there were no obvious signs of anything out of the ordinary.

“Oh, damn,” one shopper said when informed of the new cases and told Papatoetoe High School would close for two days.

Some staff in the supermarket wore face masks, others did not and virtually no customers shortly before 3pm were wearing face masks.

Local business worries

At Discount House Superette near the Pak ‘n Save, shop owner Shri Chand was talking to customers about the community cases.

He said his customers had voiced their concerns about an outbreak.

“We should be careful,” Chand said. “It can happen any time.”

Chand, who has owned the Sharkey St shop for 18 years, said he felt more comfortable now if customers wore face masks.

“If there are more people infected, we should go into lockdown but if there are no more, I don’t think we should.”

Chand said he trusted the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister to make the right call.

He said short-term sacrifices might prevent longer-term damage to people’s health and the economy.

“It’s better to lose $100 than $10,000.”

Chand said the country had grown complacent around mask-wearing.

“We’ve been very lenient since the first lockdown. We should’ve been harder.”

He had a QR code for the Covid tracer app and a manual sign-in form for contact tracing.

Some days the manual form only had one or two people signing in but Chand said many more people used the app.

Nearby, at the intersection of Rosewood Ave and Osterley Way, a middle-aged couple out shopping were among the only members of the public wearing masks.

But today’s community cases were not the reason.

“Always,” the man replied when asked how often he wore a face mask outside.

“Covid can be anywhere,” his partner replied.

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