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People in MIQ mingled with apartment residents; MBIE denies border failure

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 12:45pm

People in MIQ mingled with apartment residents; MBIE denies border failure

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 12 Nov 2020, 12:45pm

Residents of an Auckland CBD apartment block where a newly-diagnosed Covid-19 case lives mixed with people in managed isolation after a fire alarm at the isolation hotel earlier this week.

This afternoon the Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the new case - an AUT student who lives and works in the city.

But the city remains at level 1 as Ministry of Health and government officials seek more information.

Resident or visitors to Vincent St Residences at 106 Vincent St in Auckland CBD between Saturday and today should isolate and get a test as a precaution. Photo / supplied

Resident or visitors to Vincent St Residences at 106 Vincent St in Auckland CBD between Saturday and today should isolate and get a test as a precaution. Photo / supplied

The new case lives at the Vincent Residence, next door to the Grand Millennium; a managed isolation hotel.

On Monday night the Grand Millennium managed isolation hotel was evacuated after a fire alarm, with a resident from the Vincent Residence saying there was open mixing from people staying at both locations.

But that was after the latest community case first reported symptoms.

The head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Air Commodore Darryn Webb, said he was confident the integrity of the isolation facility was not compromised during the fire alarm.

He disputed claims that those in managed isolation had "freely mixed and mingled" with members of the public.

MIQ staff and hotel security had worked in conjunction with police to ensure all guests evacuated the premises safely and were contained in the identified assembly areas outside the hotel, he said.

"The safety of our staff and returnees is our top priority to ultimately ensure the safety of our community," Webb said.

"Throughout the situation, NZDF staff, wearing high visibility vests, assisted hotel security and MIQ staff in cordoning all guests in the allocated assembly areas. Guests were continuously monitored and contained. Staff ensured returnees were social distancing, face coverings were worn and that bubbles were maintained."

All MIQ facilities operated in an alert level 4 environment, Webb said.

"In evacuation situations where guests need to come outside strict infection prevention controls, developed by the Ministry of Health, are followed to manage the risks of spreading COVID-19. These protocols include use of PPE and masks and physical distancing rules."

The positive test was confirmed this morning and the woman has been moved to quarantine today.

Health officials are going through the woman's movements to contact trace and try to ascertain the source of the infection.

The woman lives alone, has limited community outings and is a student at AUT and hasn't been to classes since mid-October so there isn't a concern of transmission on campus.

She works at the A-Z Collections store in High St.

People who have visited the store at 61 High St and residents or visitors to Vincent St Residences at 106 Vincent St in Auckland CBD between Saturday and today should isolate and get a test as a precaution.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said health officials were "urgently working" to work out where the woman was infected and doing genome testing.

Bloomfield said he didn't want to pass judgment on the woman who got the test but then didn't stay home and didn't have information on whether he was advised to stay home
There is no review of alert level settings at this stage, said Bloomfield.
Sites of pop-up testing stations will be advised later today.

Hipkins stressed "we are in the early days" of information coming through.

There will be another press conference today, likely about 5pm.

Hipkins said they would give information as it came to hand.

He said the response needed to be calm and methodical and that information would be shared as quickly as it could be.

He repeated the message that "people are not the problem, they are the solution".
He urged anyone in Auckland with cold and flu symptoms to stay home and get a test.
If you are using public transport or flying in and out of Auckland, please wear a mask and observe social distancing, said Hipkins.

Hipkins said there was not enough information at this time to make a decision on alert level changes in Auckland.

The owner of A-Z Collections on High St said they were alerted about the case by the Ministry of Health this morning.

"It was really a shock, I have no idea how it happened."

The man, who did not want to be named, said he and all his staff had been tested this morning and were awaiting results.

He and his staff all wore masks, and none had experienced any symptoms, so he believed the chance of any infection was very low.

They were following all instructions from the Ministry, he said, including closing the store for desanitation.

They were hoping to be able to reopen tomorrow.

Three new cases today

Bloomfield said there were three new cases today, including the case with no link to the border.

One is connected to the November quarantine cluster and has been in isolation since Saturday.

One case was detected in a recent returnee in a managed isolation facility.

They arrived on 9 November from Los Angeles. They returned a positive test around day 3 of their stay in managed isolation and have been moved to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Officials urgently trying to track down source of new case

On the case with the unknown source, the person became symptomatic on the morning of the 9th of November and was tested on the 10th.

The positive test was confirmed this morning and the person has been moved to quarantine today.

Health officials are going through the person's movements to contact trace and try to ascertain the source of the infection.

The person lives alone, has limited community outings and is a student at AUT and hasn't been to classes since mid-October so there isn't a concern of transmission on campus

People who have visited A to Z collection store at 61 High Street and a resident or visitor to Vincent St Residences at 106 Vincent St between Saturday and today should isolate and get a test as a precaution.

The lights were out and a lock placed across the doors of A-Z Collection on Thursday afternoon.

Jumpers, T-shirts saying "I love Paris" and other clothing remained hung on their racks, but there was no sign of staff inside.

There was also no sign posted on the store windows or door to indicate it had been subject to a Covid-19 health scare.

A clothing and skateboard store next door called Prior had also put up a temporarily closed sign on its door.

A spokesman from The Vincent Residences says health officials have been in touch to say one of their tenants has the virus but they have not been told to lockdown.

The man did not know who the person was who tested positive or whether they were a man or woman.

Bloomfield said health officials were "urgently working" to work out where the person was infected and doing genome testing.

Bloomfield said he didn't want to pass judgement on the person who got the test but then didn't stay home and didn't have information on whether he was advised to stay home

There is no review of alert level settings at this stage, said Bloomfield.

Sites of pop-up testing stations will be advised later today.

An AUT spokesperson said health authorities have told the university it doesn't need to take any specific actions because the student hasn't attended classes recently.

"We will just be reassuring everyone and making sure they keep up all the usual precautions," she said.

"We will keep working closely with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service as they work through it."

Mayor's message to Aucklanders

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff backs the government's advice to wear masks on public transport, take extra care with physical distancing and use the NZ Covid Tracer app,

"While it's concerning to learn of this new community case, the best way to keep ourselves and our communities safe is by keeping up with good health practices," the mayor said.

"Wear a mask on public transport and in other situations where you can't physically distance. Keep track of your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app. And continue to follow good hygiene rules, particularly around regular hand-washing and cough/sneeze etiquette.

"If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, please contact your GP or Healthline immediately and get a test. Follow official advice on self-isolating.

"While we celebrate our success in previously containing cases of community transmission, this case is a reminder of the need for ongoing vigilance.

"We have successfully beat Covid-19 in Auckland twice now by following these guidelines, so we know they are effective and we know what do. Follow the guidelines and stay safe."

Quarantine cluster case

The latest case of the November cluster is a member of the defence force and went to the Little Penang lunch outing.

Anyone who visited that restaurant last Friday between 1 and 4pm should be "very aware" of symptoms and get a test if needed, said Bloomfield. All of the person's household contacts are isolating.

Earlier this week, Little Penang on the Terrace posted a video on Facebook of their deep cleansing efforts including "dry fogging".

Little Penang on the Terrace informed customers via Facebook on Sunday of the first positive Covid-19 case having dined at the restaurant.

It reported the restaurant already had scheduled deep cleans on Fridays, but had organised another thorough cleaning of the premises, dinnerware, and utensils as a precaution.

"We take this seriously and assure our customers that the safety of our customers and staff are paramount and is a priority. We are working with MOH to ensure all protocols are followed and complied with.

"We thank you all for the continuous support in this challenging environment. We thank all customers for continuing to use the Contact Tracer Apps."