Covid 19 Delta outbreak: West Auckland man isolating in backyard tent, toileting in bucket after Covid exposure

An Auckland man has been stuck isolating in the backyard of a boarding house where he pays to live in a tent – unable to use the property’s toilet and forced to order Uber Eats for days.

Ratana Clarke, 42, says he has had to use a bucket and shopping bag to go to the toilet since Sunday after the occupants of the New Lynn boarding house tested positive for Covid.

Typically, Clarke shares cooking and bathroom facilities with a privately-owned boarding house next to which he has pitched a tent for over a year.

However, on Sunday night all eight people living in the boarding house tested positive for Covid and were told to self-isolate at the property, Clarke said.

Clarke told the Herald he couldn’t enter the house because he was very scared of getting Covid and, under Ministry of Health guidelines, couldn’t leave the property as he was meant to be self-isolating too.

“I haven’t left in four days … I have to get UberEats every day for food,” he said.

“I held on as long as I could but I used a bucket and recyclable shopping bag to go to the toilet, as gross as that sounds.”

He said he got tested on Monday and received a negative result. However, as he is still considered a close contact he couldn’t leave the property for 14 days.

“I’m very worried about getting Covid and the longer I’m stuck in this position the higher the chance of contracting the virus,” Clarke said.

A Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre – Covid-19 Response (NRHCC) spokesman told the Herald they could confirm the decision had been made to give Clarke a place in MIQ for the necessary period of isolation.

However, the spokesman said he did not know when that would be and would provide an update when he could.

Since last summer, Clarke has been paying $100 a week to live in a tent at the house, located on Seabrook Ave in New Lynn.

He moved to Auckland before last year’s nationwide lockdown to look after his elderly mum who had diabetes. After Covid settled down, he moved to New Lynn to the tent.

“The way I saw it I had a roof over my head, might not be much but there were people worse off than me.”

He said he was frustrated because he had contacted Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) five times and only this afternoon got a call to say “they are looking into it”.

“I’ve asked them to remove me from here because everybody has tested positive,” he said.

“When I rung the first four times they put me through to their answering service and they took my name, date of birth and what you want to talk to them about, and they say they will ring you back.”

The house was located about 45m from the road and covered with trees from both sides.

Earlier today, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield warned that infections are likely to keep rising – despite the number of new Covid-19 cases dropping to 60 today.

Bloomfield said public health teams across the country have “resourced up” and would be on standby if cases crept up.

Fifty-six of the new cases are in Auckland and four are in Waikato.

Twenty-two cases remain unlinked to the outbreak and 43 people are in hospital with Covid.

A total of 89 per cent of Aucklanders have now had one vaccine dose.


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