Covid 19 coronavirus: Worker at Auckland Airport tests positive

A worker at Auckland Airport has tested positive for Covid-19 on the second day of the transtasman bubble.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all of the signs point to it being a border worker coming in contact with planes from high-risk countries.

They were a person who cleaned planes from high-risk countries.

Ardern confirmed the person was fully vaccinated and that they were regularly tested – that last on the 19th.

She said she had always said there would be cases – “Australia accepts that”.

She had not spoken to Scott Morrision – but Chris Hipkins has talked to the Australian Health Minister about the case.

Contact tracing is underway, she said.

The person was negative on the 12th – they were picked up during routine testing.

Read more: Jacinda Arden speaks to media after Covid case at border

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 to report today, the Ministry of Health said but the airport worker, classified as a border case, tested positive.

“The usual protocol of isolating the case, interviewing them, and tracing their contacts and movements is underway.

“More information will be provided later today and this case will be included in tomorrow’s totals,” the statement said.

There were 15 flight arrivals and 17 departures at Auckland Airport on Monday.

Waiting to greet the new arrivals in the airport terminal were also hundreds of family members and friends thrilled to be reunited with family on the first day of the transtasman bubble.

Today’s infection is the fourth border-related case in recent weeks.

Earlier this month a security guard at Auckland’s Grand Millennium managed isolation facility tested positive for Covid.

He transmitted the virus to a colleague who also worked in security at the hotel. Some 15 close contacts were forced to self-isolate.

Genome sequencing matched the strain to an earlier border-related case at the hotel in March where a cleaner contracted the infection from a guest.

As a result of the first two cases in the border-related cluster, an out-of-cycle infection prevention and control audit of the Grand Millennium hotel was instigated by health authorities.

The hotel is presently closed to new returnees for a ventilation systems review.

There was also one historical case of Covid-19 to report since yesterday – a recent returnee who had recovered.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases detected at the border is two.

The total number of active cases reported in New Zealand today is 86. Seventeen previously reported cases have now recovered.

The total number of confirmed cases overall is 2241. Since the start of this year there have been 49 historical cases, out of a total of 425.

The latest historical case had arrived from Somalia on March 28 via the United Arab Emirates. They’d returned a positive test on day 12 of routine testing in managed isolation in Auckland.

There were two new cases in managed isolation announced yesterday.

They were both travellers who arrived from India before the temporary ban on flights from the sub-continent began on April 11.

One landed on April 2, the other on April 5.

Meanwhile, two central Auckland managed isolation facilities will be emptied as a probe into air conditioning begins.

With quarantine-free travel now beginning between New Zealand and Australia, the Ministry of Health urged travellers to download the Covid tracer app.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 102. One previously reported case has now recovered and another previously reported case has been reclassified to “under investigation”.

Fresh investigations into the spread of Covid in MIQ operations at the Grand Millennium and Grand Mercure are underway after both hotels were closed to new returnees last week.

The reviews will look into ventilation as a potential transmission source of infection which has seen staff and returnees contract the virus.

The change would persist until the reviews concluded, expected at the end of the month.

The recommendation to close the hotels was made by a joint Ministry of Health and MIQ technical advisory group.

The group also recommended that all returnees currently at the Grand Mercure be tested at day 7 of their stay, in addition to other testing. People in managed isolation are currently tested within 24 hours of arrival, on day 3 and day 12.

MIQ head Brigadier Jim Bliss said recent instances involving new variants had shown aerosol transmission played a “greater role” in how Covid-19 spread than previously thought.

The sluggish start to an investigation was slammed by epidemiologist Professor Nick Wilson, who said there had been concern since the Rydges case in August last year whose infection still hadn’t been fully explained.

“This is all late in the day from my perspective, all these hotels should have had a rigorous review in terms of their ventilation systems from the very start,” Wilson said.

He was keen to see the Government move away from hotels as MIQ facilities and instead look at purpose-built facilities away from cities, possibly on military bases.

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