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Covid-19: Auckland managed isolation facility worker tests positive for virus

The 24-year-old security guard had not been vaccinated as he had missed two appointments for "personal reasons", health authorities say.
An Auckland border worker has tested positive for Covid-19. (File photo)

Joseph Johnson/Stuff

An Auckland border worker has tested positive for Covid-19. (File photo)

A worker at the Grand Millennium Hotel, a managed isolation facility in Auckland, has tested positive for Covid-19.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the 24-year-old man was tested on Tuesday after complaining of a sore throat.

The security guard, who has been working in managed isolation for a while, is yet to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, despite having been eligible to receive one from February 20.

Bloomfield said he understood the worker did not object to getting the jab, but “it has been the logistics of obtaining a vaccine”.

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However, Bloomfield said he was not 100 per cent sure of the specifics regarding the worker's lack of vaccination, and he was awaiting more information.

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the Ministry of Health said the case had been confirmed as current and was not historical.

“As reported earlier, the case has not yet been vaccinated,” the statement said.

“The ministry understands two appointments for vaccination were missed by the case due to personal reasons. The employer is being contacted for further relevant information.”

Eighty-one per cent of staff at the Grand Millennium have received their first vaccination, the statement said.

“As part of the follow-up actions in response to the case, the testing frequency for staff in the Grand Millennium has been increased to weekly for the next fortnight.”

Genome sequencing of the case is under way to investigate the origins of the case. Results would arrive on Friday afternoon at the latest.

STUFF

Returnees in managed isolation must wear a disposable mask every time they leave their room. This is just one of the rules attached to MIQ stays.

The security guard has been isolating at home and will be transferred to the quarantine facility, Jet Park Hotel, on Thursday.

Bloomfield said he understood the security guard lives alone and travels to work with a colleague in a private vehicle.

The colleague has received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and has returned a negative test.

Four people who live in an adjoining house have also returned negative tests.

No locations of interest have been identified for this case, and the security guard has not visited anyone.

Investigations are under way to see if any of his co-workers or members of the public have been exposed to the virus.

Vaccination of border workers began in February. (File photo)

MINISTRY OF HEALTH/Supplied

Vaccination of border workers began in February. (File photo)

A few weeks ago, a cleaner from the Grand Millennium tested positive for the United Kingdom variant of the virus. No transmission was detected following this case.

As a result, an audit is under way at the hotel, similar to the work done at the Pullman Hotel after cases there were linked.

It has so far looked at the ventilation system at the hotel, but results are not yet available.

Also on Thursday, Bloomfield announced 23 new cases at the border. Seventeen of those came to New Zealand on flights from India via the United Arab Emirates.

He said there was no evidence the security guard contracted the virus from any cases from India at the hotel.

Bloomfield said authorities were investigating whether any other border workers were not vaccinated, and finding out why.

“A conversation needs to be happening to allow people who are not being vaccinated to rethink their decision,” he said.

The Grand Millennium is one of 18 managed isolation and quarantine facilities in the Auckland region.

According to data released by the Government on Wednesday, about 71,000 people have so far received a first dose of the vaccine.

However, only 17,500 of those people have also received their second dose.

In March, another border worker – an Air New Zealand flight attendant – tested positive for Covid-19 after a flight from Japan the previous month.

She was moved to the Jet Park Hotel shortly after testing positive.

The case did not lead to any community transmission.

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