Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Samoan church service in south Auckland an emerging cluster, says Ashley Bloomfield

Health officials have identified an Auckland church affected by New Zealand’s current Covid-19 outbreak.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says several new cases are linked to a service at the Samoan Assembly of God in Māngere last Sunday.

“There are these clusters emerging and one is around the Samoan Assembly of God,” he said in response to reporters’ questions at the Government’s 1pm briefing this afternoon.

A number of positive cases including three in Wellington were at the church service and the event is now a priority for contact tracers, he says, one of a number of large gatherings including schools that are caught up in the latest community outbreak.

“The initial cases were clustered around the flat and acquaintances, partners, workmates (of the first positive case in this outbreak)… Like in New South Wales we are seeing quite high transmission inside households of this variant.”

Anyone at the Māngere church on August 15 between 9am and 4pm is asked to call Healthline for advice on testing.

The church address is 33 Andrew Baxter Drive, as listed on the Health Ministry’s locations of interest.

Bloomfield says officials are still working out how many people were at the service, and some of the new cases are still being interviewed to determine their links.

“What we’ve seen in the past is our Pacific community leaders are very good at mobilising the community to get tested… by far the highest rate of testing is among our Pacific community.”

A spokesperson for the church says they are currently working with the Ministry of Health and declined further comment.

Last August a family at the nearby Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Māngere East tested positive for Covid-19.

Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina believes the South Auckland community is better prepared this time around. “People realise we’ve been there before. Just do what we normally do, isolate if you were there, get tested, vaccinate, wash your hands,” he said.

But people are genuinely concerned about the highly infectious Delta variant, says Efeso Collins, another Manukau councillor.

📍 #IMPORTANT If you were at the Samoan Assembly of God in Māngere from 9am -3pm on August 15 are asked to isolate for 14…

The Prepare Pacific Facebook page says a Pacific Healthline 0800 21 12 21 is up and running, with interpretation available in several Pasifika languages.

Prepare Pacific was set up by the Counties Manukau, Auckland, Waitematā and Northland district health boards to get information out to Pacific communities in the battle against coronavirus.

“Coronavirus goes against everything we are as Pacific peoples,” it says on its website.

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