RNZ Auckland, March 7, 2020
An Islamic centre located at 27 Ben Lomond Crescent, Pakuranga East Auckland, is closing for at least two weeks in an effort to prevent the novel coronavirus spreading in its community.
With members who often travel to Iran, the Islamic Ahlulbayt Foundation in Pakuranga, Auckland, is shutting its doors for at least two weeks.
It is one of the largest Shia Islamic centres in Auckland with about 100 regulars.
Sayed Mohammed Taghi Derhamy leads Friday prayer which was called off yesterday.
“Right now we have had, I think, two travellers who have come back recently from Iran. That was what made us really quickly close the centre as a precaution,” he said.
That person had not shown any symptoms, but it was too close for comfort and they would only reopen when they were happy there was no risk to their members.
Other mosques were open for Friday prayer yesterday but were asking anyone who was sick, or had recently travelled to a hotspot, to stay home.
Other gatherings and public events are going ahead, but with an increased focus on hygiene.
Large events are now in the spotlight, after the Ministry of Health said one of the confirmed cases went to a concert for rock band Tool, at Auckland’s Spark Arena last Friday.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that public events should still go ahead; people just have to be sensible.
“If anyone is symptomatic with an influenza-like illness or a cold then they should not attend those events, because that is the best way to protect others. The second is, for people attending those events, please do look at the advice on our website about attending mass gatherings, and do follow those basic hygiene precautions particularly hand washing,” he said.
This weekend, the New Zealand Ironman in Taupo, and the country’s largest fun run, Round the Bays in Auckland, are going ahead as normal.
Music and art festival Womad in Taranaki next weekend will too, but one of its artists cannot travel from South Korea due to the government’s travel restrictions.
There is one event that would not be going ahead, mostly because other people need them – the GP’s conference next month.
The Royal New Zealand College of GPs said it was important family doctors and other health professionals stay where they were needed most – at work.
“We couldn’t responsibly have so many New Zealand GPs, practice nurses, and practice managers out of circulation in late April, even for a short time, in light of the evolving situation with Covid-19,” Chief Executive Lynne Hayman said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that good hygiene was not just good practice for the individual, but for everyone, especially those with compromised immune systems.
“While a vast majority of people who may have Covid-19 will only ever experience mild to moderate symptoms, there are those who are vulnerable or have underlying health concerns where the impacts will be greater. Wash your hands; stay home if you’re sick,” she said.