COVID-19: Person who snuck past North Shore Hospital security tests positive, staff stood down

Several North Shore Hospital staff members have been stood down after a person who snuck past security at the hospital last week tested positive for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, 14 new cases of COVID-19 were reported - all in the Auckland region and a household contact in upper Hauraki.

During the 1pm update the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed one of the new cases is a person who snuck past security at North Shore Hospital.

"This is one of the ones I have reported today, and there has been a thorough look at any CCTV footage and the footage at North Shore Hospital," he said.

"There has been a very small number of staff who have been stood down to be tested in the meantime and that individual has been found and has been followed up appropriately."

Dr Bloomfield said he is "concerned" about people putting both staff and unwell Kiwis at risk.

"We are working with the DHB to see if there is anything else we need to do to help support that sort of thing not happening again."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also issued a message to the case.

"I'm sure they will understand the magnitude of what has happened here but ultimately we need to constantly be vigilant for every eventuality so we have measures in place to prevent those kinds of encounters," she said. 

"It's also one of the reasons we have such strict protocols on visitors which I know is very hard for people who have a really legit reason for wanting to be in those environments but it really is all about keeping people safe."


In an update sent to staff, the Waitematā District Health Board said a "small number" of workers had been stood down after coming into contact with the member of the public who tested positive.

"These North Shore Hospital-based staff will undergo testing and will be away from work until they are cleared to return," the update said.

"This situation has come about after a man acted evasively to breach our strict alert level 4 hospital visitor rules on 16 September. 

"He bypassed our front-of-house screening processes while staff were assisting another person and hid from security staff before running into a lift."

The DHB said the man briefly visited Ward 7 and its assessment and diagnostic unit before he was confronted by security and escorted from the building. 

"He was on-site for just under 30 minutes in total. We learned late yesterday, 20 September, that the man tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday."

The DHB's occupational health and safety team is reaching out to around 20 staff who encountered him during his unauthorised visit. It is not clear whether all of these will need to be stood down.

"The level of risk to patients in the areas he frequented is considered very low as there was no direct contact with patients.

"This situation is disappointing and is very much against the spirit of the sacrifice Aucklanders have made under alert level 4 over the last five weeks.

"This person has acted deceptively to break the rules everyone else has followed and potentially exposed people to the virus in the process."

The DHB is working with Police and is checking with the Ministry of Health to see if the actions taken by the man are covered by the current legal orders in place during lockdown.