Auckland man says Govt 'not prepared' after hearing nothing from MoH despite scanning into ward where nurse with COVID-19 worked

A man has serious concerns for New Zealand's COVID-19 response after failing to receive any instructions from the Ministry of Health despite visiting a hospital ward where a nurse with the virus worked.  

Mt Eden resident Chris, who asked not to use his last name, says he's "wondering what to do" after not hearing any information on what to do next.

"I've had no alert to tell me that I'm at a high risk," he told Newshub.

Chris went to the Auckland Hospital about 4:30pm on Tuesday to collect his 84-year-old neighbour who was staying in Ward 65 with her husband. 

He scanned into the ward using the COVID-19 Tracer app but has heard nothing from officials about the potential risk.

As of 4:15pm on Wednesday, Chris still had not been contacted.

He explained he is "a bit afraid" as he has a bad heart condition and is frustrated that he only found out about the positive case working at the hospital through a third party.

"My neighbour rung me because the only reason she knew about it was that her daughter works in the hospital and rung and said Ward 65 has got Covid."

An email sent to Auckland District Health Board staff confirmed a nurse had tested positive for Covid-19 and asked everyone working in Ward 65 to get tested. The hospital is not yet listed on the locations of interest. 

"We will be carrying out a detailed contact trace over the next day but in the meantime, if you [staff members, not members of the public] have been in Ward 65 in the last five days please contact Occupational Health and get a Covid test."

The email says the DHB is concerned about a "hospital outbreak" and is taking "a number of precautions".

A 21-year-old nurse at Auckland Hospital has been confirmed as a positive COVID-19 case.
A 21-year-old nurse at Auckland Hospital has been confirmed as a positive COVID-19 case. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Chris says he expects better from the Government who he believes should be more prepared given the timeframe without any active community cases.

"It's a load of crap, they are not ready for this, I don't think the Government's ready at all," he says. "What's the point of scanning in?

"There's so many things that could have been put in place and there's been warning us for the last few weeks which makes me think they knew something was going to happen sooner or later.

"They are not prepared. They should be prepared to go - bang, and there's nothing there and I think a lot of the stuff that we learned last time hasn't been put in place to look after us and I think the Government is a bit slack on the whole thing as well. I'm sitting here wondering when will someone call me."

His worries have only been exaggerated as he tries to do find out what he needs to know and can't get through to Healthline.

"I rung the health department up, there's just so much rubbish introduction to the 0800 number and then when you get through it tells you you're about one hundred and ninety-something in the queue."

Chris says he has rung his doctor and said he would do a swab but he can't do one for his neighbour who is now in his bubble.

"I need to look after her because she hasn't got any family, her husband is still in Ward 65, so I need to stay in a bubble with her because she's got no one else to help her and she's very sick."

Chris says the COVID-19 response system needs to be looked at closely, and it's due for an overhaul.

He's going to stay put at home until he hears official advice like where to go to get tested without putting others at risk.

"I seriously think it's quite bad."

In the 1pm press conference on Wednesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was asked why some visitors who scanned into the hospital’s ward on Tuesday afternoon haven’t been contacted by health authorities.

"I can’t answer that question. But rest assured that the DHB started last night, initially, with staff, of course, and started testing quite widely."

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Newshub work is underway to identify potential cases and trace their contacts.

"Public health staff are working hard to identify and interview any cases, identify and trace their contacts, and ensure they’re isolating and tested.

"Our advice to anyone who has visited a location of interest or has cold and flu symptoms is to get tested.  Anyone who has concerns or is worried about their health should speak to Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP. "