Quarantine turns Army Bay military base into motorcamp

The Army Bay Defence Force base was transformed into a motorcamp to house 157 Wuhan evacuees during their 14-day quarantine. These campervans were among a total of 75 brought onto the site. Photo, NZ Defence Force

Bringing in 75 campervans, each large enough to house a family, turned the Defence Force’s Army Bay training camp into a temporary home for 157 people evacuated from Wuhan in China, epicentre of the novel coronavirus.

The group, who are either NZ citizens or permanent residents, or from predominantly Pacific Island countries, end their 14 day isolation period this week.

The campervans were all hired from one company and driven onto the site by Defence Force personnel. Only 63 are in use. The cost, which is being picked up by the Ministry of Health, could be in the vicinity of $280,000 at commercial campervan rates.

After the camp was transformed – a process that took two-and-a-half days and involved a concerted effort by a number of Government agencies – it was temporarily named ‘Whangaparāoa Reception Centre’ by the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health’s Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, says being able to use the facility was an essential part of the country’s response to novel coronavirus. The training camp was chosen because of its size and location at the end of the peninsula, and because it has its own medical facilities.

Onsite staff during the isolation period included Defence Force, Police, Ministry of Health and Red Cross personnel, so that advice, support and daily health checks could be provided.

As Hibiscus Matters goes to print, the Ministry of Health advises that all the evacuees are in good health.

To allay any fears, the Ministry held a public meeting at the Stanmore Bay Leisure Centre on Waitangi Day.

“I want to thank the people of Whangaparāoa and Gulf Harbour in particular, for the support they’ve offered us and the people in isolation,” Dr Bloomfield says.

For health information on the novel coronavirus, see Health column.

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