Ōtorohanga residents shocked as COVID arrives in small Waikato town

People living in the Waikato town of Ōtorohanga are shocked at the arrival of COVID but determined to beat the virus.

There were long queues at a pop-up testing station on Monday morning after confirmation of the two new community cases last night.

The tentacles of COVID keep spreading.

"Shocking really because you don't usually see, yeah, you don't hear of it from here, like, it's a bit of a shock," one person says.

The town of Ōtorohanga is the latest to feel the grip of the Delta strain.

"Hopefully it's going to stop so my advice for people: get vaccinated and come over here and get COVID test," another adds.

Mayor Max Baxter says residents have responded positively to the setback.

"It really has put its tentacles out there," he says.

"The reality is you hope your community is the one that doesn't get any positive cases - the reality is we do."

Sunday's two cases in Ōtorohanga make it the sixth place in Waikato to get positive community cases and there's been a steady stream of cars of up to 20 getting tested at the rugby club.

Health officials estimate more than 100 people got tests within a couple of hours of opening.

The Waikato outbreak now totals 87. Monday's new case in Te Awamutu brings the total in the town alone to 31 - the largest number in the Waikato outbreak.

Tracers have linked the two in Ōtorohanga to a close contact in Te Awamutu. And the case in Blenheim is also understood to link to that cluster.

Te Awamutu is now ground zero for Waikato at least. One man got his second test after a woman who later tested positive went on to his property.

"Angry and disappointed, yeah," he says.

"That girl possibly would have known - she came on to the property because she was symptomatic."

The town of 15,000 now has too many locations of interest for comfort.

"It's hard because we're such a small town and there's three places that everyone goes and that's Fresh Choice, Pak'nSave and Countdown. We all have to go there so it's just going to continue I think," one person says.

But at least all roads still lead back to the same household.

"In some ways it's positive because they're all related back to one household contact at the moment so that really indicates to me anyway that it's not spreading in the community," says Waipā District Mayor Jim Mylchreest.