7 Covid cases connected to Wellington protest, 3 in hospital

Source: 1News

There are at least seven cases of Covid-19 connected to the protest at Parliament with three of those in hospital, Regional Public Health says.

Protesters' tents dot the grounds near Parliament.

It comes as the protest is in it's 20th day, with police calling for people to leave the site due to, among other reasons, "extremely poor sanitary conditions and the confirmed presence of Covid-19".

A spokesperson for Regional Public Health said in a statement that protesters' reluctance to be tested for the virus means accurate case numbers among the group will probably never be known.

"Establishing accurate data on positive cases linked to the protest is a challenge, as we anticipate reluctance from some protesters being tested for Covid-19. As such, total figures are unlikely to be ever be known.

"So far, we know of seven Covid-19 cases that we can connect to the protest at Parliament," the statement said.

"Not all cases are protesters themselves; however they’re all connected to protesters - all cases were in the vicinity of protesters.

"We are aware of three cases connected to the protest who have been hospitalised. Of these, two were hospitalised in the Wellington region, and one outside of the Wellington region.

"For privacy reasons we are unable to provide any further information on cases connected to the protest at Parliament."

It comes amid what police say is aggressive behaviour from anti-mandate protesters directed at them.

“Aggressive behaviour from protesters, extremely poor sanitary conditions, the confirmed presence of Covid-19, and the number of unwell people amongst the group all make for an unsafe, and unpleasant environment for anyone thinking of joining the activity,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Read more: 14,941 Covid-19 cases in the community on Sunday

“Increasingly, key protest group leaders are unable to control or influence the disparate groups within the protest.”

Police reiterated their calls for people, particularly families and children, to stay away from the protests.

"Police maintain that the protest site is not a suitable environment for families and children," the spokesperson said.

"We are urging people intent on attending the protest today or the coming week, to stay away, this is not a safe place.

"We do not want more people joining this environment and putting their health and safety at risk."

Police will continue to have a highly visible presence in and around Parliament grounds.

There are an estimated 300 vehicles inside the cordoned area as of Sunday morning, the spokesperson said.

On Sunday, 14,941 new Covid-19 community cases were recorded and one new death, according to the Ministry of Health.

There are 305 people in hospital with the virus, including five in the high dependency or intensive care unit.