MIQ worker at centre of court lockdown 'hurt and upset' after backlash

Author
Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Jan 2021, 4:29PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

MIQ worker at centre of court lockdown 'hurt and upset' after backlash

Author
Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 7 Jan 2021, 4:29PM

A woman at the centre of a Covid-19 scare that plunged the Hamilton District Court into lockdown is off work due to backlash from the incident.

The court was put into lockdown about 9.20am yesterday after she told a court staffer that she had recently had her routine Covid-19 test. She works at a Hamilton managed isolation facility.

However, she's believed to have also told them that she had a runny nose.

Her symptom was reported to senior officials before the court was immediately shut with more than 50 people outside, and others turning up for their appearance, unable to get in.

The woman's employer, speaking on her behalf, disputes that she said she had a runny nose and believes it was a case of someone hearing the words "Covid and test and gone from there".

However, the Ministry of Justice confirmed it only goes into lockdown if someone with symptoms of Covid-19 or actually has the virus goes into one of its facilities.

Her test result came back negative a couple of hours later.

The lockdown saw many court appearances re-scheduled, however those in custody had their hearings later in the afternoon by Virtual Media Room, or Zoom, where just the offender and their representative was in the courtroom.

The woman's boss said comments on social media yesterday after news of the lockdown spread were having an effect on her.

She was not at work today.

"She is still quite hurt and upset, and has taken some leave," he said today.

"I will be having a full debrief with her once she has had that time."

Masked security guards stand by the front doors of the Hamilton District Court during lockdown yesterday morning. Photo / Belinda Feek

Masked security guards stand by the front doors of the Hamilton District Court during lockdown yesterday morning. Photo / Belinda Feek

He said he fully believed and supported her "100 per cent".

"[I] 100 per cent believe her she has worked for me for a long time and is one of my most loyal and senior staff. I had worked with her at a previous company as well.

"She rang us straight away as soon as it happened so before anything was out in the media and told us what had happened.

"She did tell them it's routine every 14 days, so sounds like someone has heard the words Covid and test and gone from there."

The woman had followed all required procedures as set down by MIF management, he said.

"I commend the ministry on its swift action and that it should ease the public's mind that there is procedures in place."

The lockdown was lifted about 11.20am and those stuck inside were allowed out, but the court itself remained closed for the remainder of the day.

They were all regarded by the Ministry of Health as casual contacts so did not need to get a test or do any mandatory quarantine.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the negative result yesterday afternoon.

A ministry spokesperson said the action was precautionary "after some initial reports that the person had symptoms consistent with Covid-19".

"The Ministry of Health acknowledges our border workers' willingness to undergo regular Covid-19 tests that are helping keep all New Zealanders safe from Covid-19.

"These people do not need to stay home – unless they develop symptoms."