Coronavirus: Investigation launched after Jet Park Hotel quarantine worker tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus: Investigation launched after Jet Park Hotel quarantine worker tests positive for COVID-19
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An investigation has been launched after a health worker at Auckland's quarantine facility tested positive for COVID-19.

The person was tested on Friday morning as part of routine weekly testing and returned a positive result on Saturday. They are employed to only work at the Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility and don't work at any other site.

The case is being investigated by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) to find whether they became infected from the community or from within the managed isolation facility. The Ministry of Health says at this stage there aren't any obvious links to other cases in the community.

Genome testing is underway to see what strain of the virus the worker has contracted to help identify the source, and the results of this test are expected on Monday.

Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) Air Commodore Darryn Webb said work is now underway to review staffing logs, swipe card data and CCTV footage in order to map the person's movements within the facility over recent days. ARPHS is also conducting interviews at Jet Park to identify close contacts among fellow staff members, along with any potential close contacts outside work. 

Five of the worker's household contacts are in isolation in their home and are due to be tested on Sunday. Any other identified close contacts will also be required to self-isolate and be tested.

"The Auckland Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility is a tightly-controlled environment and as with all managed isolation and quarantine facilities, it operates with strict infection prevention control protocols at all times," Webb said.

"All staff at the Jet Park quarantine facility are tested weekly for COVID-19 with all but one staff member having had this week's routine test completed by today. As a result of this positive case, and as an added precaution, all staff are being tested again with 48 staff tested yesterday and the remainder to be tested today and tomorrow."

He added a "hospital-grade cleaning" of medical and operational staff rooms has been carried out using a Bioquell machine, which sanitises areas with hydrogen peroxide vapour.

"We are committed to providing our staff with the information and tools they need to do their jobs safely, and will be working alongside health officials to make sure staff and every person currently staying at the quarantine facility are supported at this time."

The Ministry of Health said ARPHS is working closely with Jet Park to help double-check protocols and procedures for keeping both staff and people they're caring for safe.  

"PPE is one of a number of protection measures used by staff and a review by the Infection Prevention Control service by the Northern Managed Facilities Quality and Risk team will be carried out to see if the source of the infection can be found and to make recommendations for any additional precautions that should be taken in future," it said.

This is the first time a staff member at Jet Park has tested positive for COVID-19 since the hotel became a managed isolation facility.

Over its five-and-a-half months of operating, the Ministry of Health said 2532 people and their close contacts have been managed in the facility. This includes people who were transferred from the border, other managed isolation facilities and the community.

The worker was one of two new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Sunday - the other is an overseas returnee who was in managed isolation.

An additional 13 people were classed as recovered overnight, bringing the total number of active cases to 97. Of those, 39 are imported cases in MIQ facilities and 58 are community cases.

The total number of confirmed and probable cases currently stands at 1797.

Three people are in hospital - one is in isolation on a ward in Auckland City Hospital and two are in ICU, one each at North Shore and Waikato hospitals.