Third Auckland hotel worker tests positive for Covid-19

Photo:NZ Herald
Photo:NZ Herald
A third worker at a central Auckland managed isolation and quarantine hotel has tested positive for Covid-19 - a close contact of the hotel security guard who tested positive last week.

And while there is believed to be little additional risk to the public, four new locations of interest have been released by the Ministry of Health - two bakeries, a dairy and a cellphone retailer.

Last night's new case is also a worker at the Grand Millennium hotel - it is the third case at the hotel in recent weeks, and is known as Case C.

Case A was a cleaner who tested positive on March 21 and Case B is the security guard who tested positive last week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today that the new case was a close contact of the security guard and had initially returned a negative test.

The fact that the guard had not had a Covid jab was a matter for his employer.

Asked about why workers were not vaccinated, Ardern told TVNZ that 79% of First Security staff had been vaccinated against Covid.

Ardern said that was "not good enough".

"Everyone in MIQ has to be vaccinated," she said of all workers at the border. She reiterated on Newshub that if frontline workers didn't get vaccinated then they would be moved on.

Ardern said she was satisfied with the vaccination roll-out generally and the country was at 95 per cent where it expected to be right now.

New Zealand had now vaccinated more than 100,000 people with DHBs starting to use third year nursing students to administer the Pfizer vaccine.

Ardern said that as soon as there was a new case, she asked officials how they felt about it.

She said director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was "not anxious at all in this situation".

Speaking about the India travel ban, Ardern acknowledged that there were other high-risk Covid countries.

"Had we seen the same thing happen in Brazil, had we seen the same thing happen in the United States, I would do the same thing," she said.

Ardern said 80 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in MIQ in the past four weeks were people travelling from India.

She said it was both citizens and permanent residents travelling from India to New Zealand as well as those critical health workers with visas, but had asked for more details on who was coming here.

"Just to understand whether or not it is people coming and going because of course we don't want people putting themselves and the country at risk."

The most important thing was that the India travel ban was "a pause" and that this would not be permanent.

When asked by Newshub whether she thought people were "taking the mickey a bit", she replied: "I don't believe that is what is happening here... but it is helpful to understand."

Ardern said what they had seen was that people coming to New Zealand from India appeared to be getting Covid after being tested.

She acknowledged that they may be happening as people were heading into the city or on their way to the airport.

The government is now looking at whether it needs to shorten the 72 hour time frame for the mandatory predeparture Covid test because evidence indicated that it was "very likely" people were getting infected after they were tested.

Cases A and B are genomically linked to a person who returned to New Zealand on March 13, the ministry said last night.

While Case B - the security guard - infection can be genomically linked to that of Case A, what isn't known is how the infection was passed between the two.

The ministry said an investigation into the transmission was ongoing.

In terms of Case C, it said there was believed to be very little additional risk to the community as the person had been self-isolating at home since being deemed a close contact of Case B.

"This worker and their partner have this afternoon moved to the Auckland quarantine facility," said the ministry.

In the wake of the security guard and cleaner's positive results, the ministry said an out-of-cycle Infection Prevention and Control audit of the hotel would be carried out, similar to that previously done at both the Pullman and the Grand Mercure facilities.

Meanwhile, four new locations of interest in Mt Roskill were released yesterday in relation to the security guard (Case B).

They are: Bikanervala Bakery, Terminus Dairy, White Swan Mobile and Bake and Beans. They were visited at various times between March 29 and April 7.

• Bikanervala Bakery, White Swan Rd - April 7 - 1.30pm to 2.30pm
• Bake and Beans, 1484 Dominion Rd – April 1, April 2, April 6 - 4.30pm to 5.30pm
• Terminus Dairy, 1484 Dominion Rd – March 31, April 1, April 6, April 7 - 4.30pm to 5.30pm
• White Swan Mobile, 151 White Swan Rd – March 29 - 3.30pm to 4.30pm

Anyone at these locations during the relevant time periods is considered a casual contact and should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure.

If you become unwell or develop symptoms, call Healthline, get tested and stay at home until you get a negative test result.

PM: This really is the last call

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says border workers have up to the end of April to be vaccinated before they are moved out of their jobs.

But National's Chris Bishop says the rule should be applied from now on, not the end of April, considering border vaccinations began on February 20.

He also says a voluntary register of border workers to record testing and vaccinations should be a mandatory requirement for all employers with border-facing staff.

And he says there appeared to varying estimates, between 80 per cent and 95 per cent, of how many border workers had been vaccinated.

Questions about just how many border workers have not been vaccinated were triggered by last week's positive case of a privately employed security guard working at the Grand Millennium managed isolation hotel – who had missed two vaccination appointments.

Ardern said on Thursday that from Monday, unvaccinated border workers would start being moved to other work.






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