Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Wanted – 600 new contact tracers as locations of interest exceed 400

The Ministry of Health is looking to double the number of contact tracers to about 1200 as more than 400 locations of interest are now linked to the Delta Covid-19 outbreak that forced New Zealand into level 4 lockdown.

The Ministry of Health’s website shows 421 times and locations of interest, with new locations in Auckland added on Tuesday, including St Therese Catholic Church, two Pak’nSaves and a Remuera liquor shop.

“There are now more than 600 frontline contact tracers based in call centres. As we move to building our surge capacity we expect to more than double this number in coming days,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

Contact tracing is carried out by Public Health Units and is co-ordinated by the National Contact Tracing Centre at the Ministry of Health.

Tech company Datacom has been engaged to provide surge capacity on contact tracing, and is seeking 600 people to work as their contracted providers.

According to a Facebook post, the roles have an immediate start and pay an hourly rate of $28 on a casual contract.

“They are specifically looking for people from diverse backgrounds, with a focus on those that are able to speak a second language, ideally a Pacific language,” the post said.

The ministry spokeswoman said contact tracers were currently working tirelessly and at pace.

“We would like to acknowledge their incredible mahi, and thank everyone who has co-operated with contact tracers. You are doing your bit for New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19,” she said.

“The number of contacts has increased significantly. This is something we expected as we identify and investigate more cases, and test in large numbers.”

People are urged to remain vigilant, and anyone experiencing cold or flu symptoms should get tested and self-isolate until they have received their results.

Locations of interest are added to the ministry’s website every two hours.

“We ask everyone who has recently visited Auckland, the Coromandel and Wellington to check these regularly. If you were at a location of interest, at the specified times, please self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing,” the spokeswoman said.

Contact tracing is one line of defence in the effort to stamp out the current outbreak, she said.

“When we know Covid-19 is in the community, another focus is to test as many symptomatic individuals and potential contacts as possible,” the spokeswoman said.

“PCR testing is our most accurate and effective tool in identifying and getting ahead of the virus. It is only through testing and then contact tracing that we can get a ring around the spread of the virus.”

There are 41 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 148.

Thirty-eight of the new cases are in Auckland and three of the new cases are in Wellington, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Bloomfield and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson both expected more new active Covid-19 cases in the days ahead.

Bloomfield said a large proportion of cases were now of Samoan ethnicity, as a result of the sub-cluster of about 58 cases linked to the Assembly of God Church of Samoa in Mangere.

The cluster from the church in South Auckland included people who attended a service, and their contacts.

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