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Update From Mayor Boult On COVID-19 Response

One week in to the nationwide Alert Level 4 lockdown, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult is reinforcing the message to stay home and save lives.

“I am saddened and incredibly concerned that the Southern region has the highest number of confirmed and probable cases in the country. While the majority of cases are still related to overseas travel, there is not yet a full picture of the level of community transmission,” Mayor Boult said.

WellSouth announced on Wednesday that testing capacity in Queenstown had more than doubled following the relocation of the Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC) testing facility to the Memorial Centre. Actions are also being coordinated by WellSouth to increase the testing capacity for the Upper Clutha community at both the Wānaka Medical and Aspiring Medical centres.

“Increasing our capacity to test is the only way we’ll get a clear picture of how this virus is spreading and ensure those who are unwell can be treated and recover as quickly as possible,” Mayor Boult said.

“If you’re feeling unwell and have symptoms such as a fever, shortness of breath, sore throat or cough and you’re concerned you have had contact with someone infected with COVID-19, please call your GP or Healthline as soon as possible,” he said.

“For everyone else, the rules are clear. Stay home and save lives.”

“I accept it’s hard and a huge change in lifestyle for such an active community, especially with this beautiful weather we’ve been having. The vast majority of people are doing the right thing but many are still flouting the direction given by government which is to leave your house only to access essential services, like buying groceries, or going to a bank or pharmacy, and to stick to simple outdoor exercise without driving. This isn’t a summer holiday. It’s serious and we need to unite as a community to break the chain of transmission,” he said.

Mayor Boult applauded the work done locally to provide welfare for local people facing unimaginable challenges and is continuing urgent conversations with government ministers to improve the support available for local migrant workers.

“I’ve said previously, the response from our community, the QLDC team and our government has been impressive and humbling. If we continue to work together in this way, we will get through this crisis admirably. But this district has seen more requests for welfare than anywhere else in the South Island,” he said.

“We can continue providing food packages or vouchers to those in need but the scale of the problem is much wider than that. We urgently need the government’s support to provide emergency benefits to our migrant workers who contribute so much when times are good to keep our district running,” he said.

Help is available if you or somebody you know is in a vulnerable position and in need of additional assistance. This includes anyone over 70 who must now stay at home and may therefore need help with essential services like grocery shopping. Mayor Boult said the district has hundreds of registered volunteers willing to help who are screened and working under strict guidelines. There are a number of ways to get the help you need. Call 0800 322 4000, or register online at www.qldc.govt.nz/covid-19.

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