Return 2 work for many; questions over Middlemore Hospital infection handling

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Sep 2021, 7:38AM

Return 2 work for many; questions over Middlemore Hospital infection handling

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Sep 2021, 7:38AM

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As most Kiwis enjoy some renewed freedom under Delta Level 2, a probe is underway to find out how a patient displaying Covid-19 symptoms remained in a ward at Middlemore Hospital before ultimately testing positive. 

Twenty-nine staff from Middlemore Hospital have been stood down for 14 days, and will undergo tests to see if they have the potentially-deadly Delta variant. 

Health Minister Andrew Little this morning told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that the large number of staff having to be stood down as a precautionary move was a "significant" issue for the hospital. 

He also said "questions still need to be answered" over how the patient remained in ward once displaying Covid-like symptoms. 

Initial screening of the patient on his admittance included being asked if he had been at a Covid-19 location of interest. The man said they hadn't, meaning there was nothing to indicate that he was at risk of having Delta. 

But the next morning he started displaying symptoms, Little said. 

That included a fever. 

But instead of being placed in isolation away from other patients, the man was left in the ward for several hours. 

Talking to the AM show, Little said the patient was later swabbed for Covid and then put in a room where there was some distance and curtains separating him from the other patients. 

Staff were all wearing PPE gear. 

He said frontline staff were told to leave him where he was and the Ministry of Health was now investigating why that happened and whether it could have been handled differently. 

"The advice to everybody if they have been tested for Covid because they are symptomatic is to isolate straight away that means being away from other people. The clinicians at this point made a different judgement . . . that's the judgement they made and this is the consequence we've now got." 

Little was unsure about the availability of isolation rooms. It seemed like there initially wasn't one available for the Covid patient but subsequently some were found for the other three patients who were in the original room.