Kiwi kept in isolation after 14 days after health officials lost her Covid test

Author
Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 11:16AM

Kiwi kept in isolation after 14 days after health officials lost her Covid test

Author
Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 11:16AM

A New Zealander in managed isolation was prevented from leaving after 14 days when her Covid-19 test was lost.

Health officials have admitted that her case is not isolated and said that staff doing testing in quarantine do not register the specimens in the database at the point of collection, as is standard for other testing.

Nicole Green returned to New Zealand on June 13, after two years based in Melbourne where she worked for Virgin Australia as cabin crew.

The pandemic's devastating effect on global aviation meant that Green lost her job and she returned to New Zealand, anxious to visit an ailing relative.

Green was in managed isolation at the Naumi Hotel at Auckland Airport when she contacted authorities on her 14th day in the country, asking when she could leave.

"They didn't explain it. On the 27th I called them at around 3pm, asking for my test results because nothing came through by email and they were well aware who I was," Green said.

Green told the Herald that officials said "We've got something to tell you" before revealing: "We've lost your test results and you're not on our database".

Green said the situation was "ridiculous" because she had been in a bubble with her aunt and cousin during her time in managed isolation and they were cleared to leave on June 27.

She told the Herald she had to insist on being tested again and then had to wait until the following morning, when she was called in her room and instructed to head urgently downstairs for a fresh test.

Green says she was told the test results would be back by lunchtime on her 15th day in isolation, but it wasn't until 5pm that a negative result was returned.

She was then allowed to leave the hotel.

A spokesperson for the Northern Region DHBs told the Herald that laboratories were dealing with an "unprecedented volume" of tests at the time Green was tested and said "although her day 12 swab had been recorded as taken at the Naumi Hotel, it had not been received by the laboratory for processing".

They disputed that Green's records were lost, saying "there was always a record of Ms Green in our system, including her negative day three test result."

The spokesperson admitted that Green's swab was not the only one to go missing, revealing: "There have been a small number of instances when swabs we were expecting did not arrive at our laboratories.

"In each case we took action to either track down the swab or quickly re-take the swab so testing could be carried out as soon as possible."

The existing IT solution for recording lab tests was not used in the hotels, the spokesperson said, telling the Herald the ability to register specimens in the laboratory system at the point of collection was not available in quarantine and managed isolation and "a more manual process is required".

Green said that the situation caused her anxiety because she wanted to be released to head to the Hokianga to visit her grandfather, who is in failing health.

Green told the Herald that she was upset that no one was taking responsibility for the error and no one has yet contacted her to offer a reimbursement for pre-booked car hire fees that she incurred while stuck in isolation.

She said she felt she was due an apology after her experience.