COVID-19: Major blow for Auckland pub owner after infectious person visited

An Auckland pub owner says revelations someone with COVID-19 visited his bar last week are a major blow.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) said on Wednesday the person was infectious while they were at The Malt in Greenhithe on Friday night.

Those who visited the pub between 7:30pm and 10pm on the same night have been asked to self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test.

The Malt owner Kevin McVicar said it's not good news after a tough year, with business just starting to pick back up again after the last lockdown.

McVicar said he's owned the venue for five years and never imagined anything like this happening.

"It's very frustrating," he told Newshub. "There's nothing we can do about it though, is there?"

He said he only found out on Wednesday night that a case had visited and his staff who were working at the time are being tested.

Meanwhile, University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said it's vital for those who were at the bar to be vigilant.

"Anyone who has a remote connection with this case - if they have symptoms that they, again, [need to] self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible."

The new cases should be manageable like the previous Auckland cluster, Prof Baker said, and it's a stark reminder of how intense the pandemic is outside New Zealand.

But social events can be a problem and turn into super spreading episodes, he said.

"One person... can infect a whole lot of people in quite a short period of time in an indoor venue like this."

Prof Baker also wants additional measures at the border, saying people arriving from high-risk countries should be required to return a negative test before travelling.

While New Zealand's systems are good, he said there's still a risk.

"We really should look at a very targeted approach to consider pre-travel quarantine  - to reduce the number of infected people."

The ARHPS said on Wednesday most patrons who were at the pub on Friday night are considered casual contacts but are asked to get tested as soon as possible.

"They should stay at home in self-isolation until they receive a negative test result.

"Household members of pub patrons from that night need only to get tested and stay home if the person who was at the pub becomes sick or develops any symptoms, or unless directed by Public Health."

The Ministry of Health will provide further information at its 1pm press conference.