A cleaner at a managed isolation facility in Auckland visited a kindergarten three days before they tested positive for COVID-19.
The case, who works at Auckland's Grand Millennium Hotel, visited BestStart St Lukes to collect a grandchild on Friday. They later tested positive for the virus on Monday due to routine surveillance testing.
In a statement to Newshub on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) confirmed it has been working with BestStart St Lukes to "assess the level of risk" associated with Case A's visit to the centre on Friday.
"ARPHS has thoroughly investigated the visit, talking to the centre management and to the case. The case spent less than 10 minutes picking up the child, without being in close contact with anyone at the centre," the spokesperson said.
"ARPHS considers that all staff, children and parents there at the time are at very low risk of infection. Families and staff received a letter from ARPHS yesterday afternoon providing advice, sent out by the centre."
Fiona Hughes, the deputy chief executive of BestStart, told Newshub that when the grandmother came to pick up the child, she went into a playroom. However, there were no children or teachers in the room.
"She waved to a teacher. The teacher waved back and sent the child through the classroom to the grandmother and she left," Hughes said.
The kindergarten was contacted by ARPHS on Monday night and sent a text to parents the next morning letting them know the centre was closed. It was then closed for a deep-clean before reopening on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health has not disclosed the kindergarten as a location of interest in connection to Case A. The only location currently identified is the Countdown in Mt Roskill, which the cleaner visited for roughly 10 minutes between 3pm and 3:15pm on Saturday, March 20.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the family member, a household contact of Case A, returned the negative result after undertaking an additional test, including serology.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told Newshub that genome sequencing for Case A confirmed the cleaner is infected with the B.1.1.7 strain of the virus, also known as the UK variant. The mutation is understood to be more transmissible and more deadly than previous variants, with its mortality rate estimated to be between 35 and 64 percent higher.
The sequencing also established a genomic link between the cleaner and an imported case, a new arrival who had tested positive at the Grand Millennium Hotel. The returnee stayed at the facility between March 13 and 15, the ministry said, and had contracted the virus before the cleaner received their second jab of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Health officials are now puzzled as to why the relative of Case A initially returned a weak positive result, speculating that an earlier infection or a false positive could be to blame.
The family member remains under investigation as health officials continue their investigations into Case A. Three other household contacts of the cleaner have tested negative.
Newshub has contacted the Ministry of Health for comment.