Man learned of Covid case at hotel via media

Auckland Airport Novotel Hotel which is in lockdown after a guest tested positive for Covid-19 at...
Auckland Airport Novotel Hotel which is in lockdown after a guest tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend. Photo: Dean Purcell
An Oamaru man in managed isolation in Auckland was informed of a new Covid-19 case’s link to his hotel through the media, rather than by health officials.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, started his mandatory 14-day isolation period at the Auckland Airport Novotel 12 days ago, after returning to New Zealand from the United States.

The Auckland hotel was in lockdown until yesterday, Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday confirming a teenage girl who had been staying there was one of the country’s two new confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The other new case was a man in his 30s who arrived at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland from India on June 15.

The teenager had arrived in New Zealand on June 13 after travelling with her siblings and mother on a flight from Pakistan to Doha, then on to Melbourne, before Auckland.

Ashley Bloomfield.
Ashley Bloomfield.

When news broke of her connection to the Auckland Airport Novotel on Sunday, the Oamaru man had not been contacted by health officials or hotel staff. He received a call later that night and was told "there had been a case and we had to stay in our rooms and we’d know more in the morning".

A letter from the hotel, delivered to guests with their breakfast yesterday, advised guests that access in and out of the building was restricted, including scheduled walks and any outdoor activities, and all people who were in the facility "at the time of the notification, including hotel staff, remain isolated within the hotel until further notice".

Last week, the Oamaru man told the Otago Daily Times he was concerned about conditions at the Auckland Airport Novotel, as the public was able to easily enter the hotel, social distancing protocols had not been consistently enforced or adhered to and there was no requirement to wear a mask. He was also concerned about the risk of the infection spreading because people were at different stages of quarantine, and not separated based on that.

He had not been contacted about any possible contact with the teenager or her family, but said he had taken great care throughout isolation to keep himself free from infection

"I’ve pretty much stayed in my room most of the time, anyway, going outside for a bit and keeping my distance from everybody."

Despite the Prime Minister and Dr Bloomfield’s assurances all returning New Zealanders were being tested twice throughout their 14-day mandatory isolation period, the Oamaru man said he had still not been tested for the virus.

When he inquired about the testing process, he was told "they’d be in touch".

"That never happened, but I should be getting tested [today] anyway," he said.

"The only contact I’ve had is them asking how I was planning on leaving and where I’m staying the first night I’m out of here."

Provided he returns a negative result this week, he will be able to leave the managed isolation facility on Thursday morning and return home to Oamaru.

Both yesterday’s positive cases, and the people they were travelling with, had been transferred to the Jet Park Hotel for quarantine.

The Ministry of Health and All-of-Government Covid-19 response team were approached for comment, but did not answer the Otago Daily Times’ questions.


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