Growing calls for South Aucklanders to get COVID-19 vaccine priority following recent outbreaks

It was another day of no new community cases on Thursday - but there are growing calls for South Aucklanders to be pushed up the vaccination queue as they grapple with the impact of another outbreak in the community. 

What a difference a day makes. Otara's testing station was virtually empty on Thursday after Wednesday's queues. 

But for those who were there to get a test, there was still a bit of a theme: "I went to Kmart last week."

CEO of the Pasifika Medical Association Debbie Sorensen is suggesting the South Auckland community should be next in the vaccine queue, once New Zealand's border workers have had their shots.

"In South Auckland we have many people who live in a collective way, in their houses. You know, for example in my house, we have 11 people in our bubble - that's not uncommon," she says.

Sorensen says the Government should look at pushing them up the list because many in the community work at our borders or live with or near those who do.

South Auckland has again been affected by the latest COVID-19 outbreak, just as it was in the August lockdown last year.     

"We also as a community have a very high attendance at church, so every week we have people who are gathering, you know 200 people at a church service," Sorensen says.

Manukau Ward Councillor Efeso Collins says the community would welcome prioritisation, but Auckland as a whole should also be up there.  

"I think Auckland in general we've seen the outbreaks and the community transmission happen here in Auckland, we're the gateway city," he says.

More than 1000 Aucklanders are currently being told to stay at home after they went shopping at the Kmart where the recent positive case worked. 

Fifteen of their colleagues are close-plus contacts and eight of those have now returned a negative test. 

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health also revealed but the case's family also held a home viewing on behalf of the property's owners. That's not being considered a location of interest because only three people and an agent attended, and they've all been identified and tested. 

As for Papatoetoe High School - the re-testing of 1500 is going well - there were just 213 staff and students left to go.  

"I'm hoping by today that might even be down to double digits," Papatoetoe High School Principal Vaughan Couillault said.

Couillault is optimistic that next week they might have another crack at starting the term.

"As long as it's not a steam train I'm pretty happy. We thought we saw a light on Monday and then we went, oops that's another train!"