Auckland man says quarantine stay extended - despite 5 negative tests

Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Sep 2020, 3:00PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Auckland man says quarantine stay extended - despite 5 negative tests

Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 2 Sep 2020, 3:00PM

A man has been forced to carry out his managed isolation at Auckland's Jet Park Hotel - despite never testing positive to Covid-19.

Not only that, he has to spend five days longer in managed isolation - five days longer than the woman he was travelling with - who received a "very positive" result.

The man, who did not want to be identified, says he's anxious to get out and back to his Auckland hospitality business which has 23 employees.

By Wednesday afternoon he'd endured five tests - all coming back negative - but is due to have another on Friday; the day before he's due to leave.

His test today involved him being asked to part in a "saliva test" trial; where the person spits into a small cup, rather than having a small cotton bud put up their nose.

The man said he and his friend flew into New Zealand from Hong Kong on Monday August 17.

After landing, they were put on a bus and sent to the Sudima Hotel in Rotorua.

The following day they received notification of their day 3 Covid-19 test and agreed to having it done.

On the Friday night, they had a knock at their hotel room door when the man's friend was told that she had tested positive for the virus.

They were then told they would both be taken to Auckland's Jet Park Hotel.

However, the man said he tried to argue against going, mainly because he was yet to get his result back and didn't want to go there if he tested negative.

"I understand getting moved to Jet Park if you're positive, because that's where everyone that's positive is, but I said I'd like to know what my result is before I get moved to some place that has positive people because I don't want the risk of catching it."

The following morning, he asked again and they still didn't have the result. He then called Healthline and was told he had tested negative.

"Then I got on the bus and sent here ... and then they said 'look, since you were a close contact you have to re-start your 14 days'.

"But my friend only has to do 10 [more] days and she was positive."

His friend got out of isolation on Tuesday, however the businessman isn't getting out until Saturday.

"She had a very strong test result saying that she's positive and I've had three tests and they've come back all negative. They said you can still develop symptoms and it can incubate.

"I've got a business to get back to, we didn't get the wage subsidy, I've got 23 staff members that I've got to get back to and I don't know if they're going to have a job or not. I've got things I've got to do.

"I understand if I'm high risk but I'm not, they've tested me three times. I really don't know why I'm here if I'm negative."

He felt as thought it would have been better for him to have caught the virus so he could have got out of isolation earlier.

"I haven't even left my room, I'm not even going to take any chance of going out because everyone coming in here has it and they're all in the rooms next to me and coughing and vomiting."

A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed that close contacts of those who test positive have their quarantine period rewound to day 1 due to the known 14-day incubation period for Covid-19.

"Everyone who tests positive while in managed isolation is moved to quarantine ... we also move any close contacts of the case to quarantine, on the basis that they may have been exposed and be incubating the virus."

As at 6pm on September 1, there were 58 people in Jet Park who had not, as yet, tested positive for Covid-19. They are all close contacts of positive cases.

The spokesperson said there were many cases where someone in a bubble developed Covid-19 but it could take up to 14 days for those around them to become unwell.

"The recent community cases in Auckland are good examples. Not every close contact will get the virus, but we take a precautionary approach and move the whole bubble into quarantine."

A person who tested positive could be released from isolation when they met requirements including; it had been at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms and at least 72 hours since symptoms ceased, or, if the person was asymptomatic at the time of testing, and remains asymptomatic they can be released 10 days after the positive test.

"The incubation period for Covid-19 is internationally considered to be 14 days. The 14 days starts from last contact with a case while they were potentially infectious.

"Therefore - if the person below was in contact with the case till day 6 of their standard 14-day managed isolation stay, their new 14 days as a close contact would start on day 6 - taking them out to day 20."