Coronavirus: Mum certain daughter caught COVID-19 in MIQ hotel amid reports of multiple breaches

Newshub has been told about multiple breaches in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ), including one mother who is certain her daughter caught COVID-19 in a hotel facility. 

MIQ is supposed to be a last line of defence against COVID-19, but inside the Pullman Hotel it's the opposite - the virus is spreading and one mother is certain her daughter caught it there. 

"Just fix it. Fix it before someone does pass away from it," the mother told Newshub. Her two daughters believe they were staying next door to the two new Auckland cases of COVID-19. 

They saw other guest mingling and wore full personal protective equipment (PPE) in the hotel, but Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says that's not where they caught coronavirus. 

"These were most likely due to inflight transmission and I have asked the team to go back and just have another look at that just to confirm that," Dr Bloomfield told reporters. 

The mother told Newshub: "I am upset because... Why say it comes from the airplane? Why not just admit that it's getting transferred in an isolation area and we dropped the ball?"

She says when her daughters arrived from South Africa they were bundled onto a bus with returnees from other high risk countries, and COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins says that shouldn't be happening. 

"People shouldn't be put in a position where they are mingling with other flights when they're being transported from the airport to the hotel," he said. 

The minister is now reviewing transport arrangements, but National says go harder and faster. 

"There are very concerning things going on in MIQ and we do need a full, independent investigation," COVID-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop told Newshub. 

The Pullman Hotel in Auckland used for managed isolation.
The Pullman Hotel in Auckland used for managed isolation. Photo credit: Getty

Newshub has been sent footage from inside another MIQ hotel - Waipuna - of guests warning management about a cleaner working in common areas refusing to wear a mask. 

"I don't feel comfortable with her cleaning this place if she's not going to wear a mask... we're in quarantine because we could potentially have COVID," guest Lesa Lumby can be heard saying in the video. 

Speaking to Newshub she said: "I said to her 'do you mind putting on your mask?' and she just walked away from me, so that wasn't so nice."

Lumby says the cleaner was asked four times.

"It's very difficult for them to breathe," a staff member could be heard telling Lumby in the video, until later admitting that masks must be worn in that area of the hotel.

"Well she's not," said Lumby. "That's four times. I've asked her personally, the security guard, you have, this will be the fourth time now."

It's their only complaint about Waipuna Hotel, but it's a clear breach of the rules, which say "non-health care staff must wear a face mask in any returnee areas".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the rules are in place to keep people safe. 

"That is for their own health and safety we don't ask them to do anything that we don't think is there to make them safe and those around them safe."

The cleaner was stood down for 72 hours and tested - but was sent back home, in the community. 

"She's just sent home, goes to the supermarket - whatever she wants to do - and potentially has COVID," said guest Matt Brunton. "That's just a clear way of popping us back into lockdown."

It comes amid news that a MIQ worker at the Grand Millennium Hotel was fired earlier this month after they had a 20-minute "encounter" with a recent returnee in their bedroom.

Hipkins is chalking the 20-minute bedroom encounter over bottle of wine as a once-off. 

"I don't think that there are slipping standards; I think that is an isolated a one-off event," he said. 

But Newshub keeps hearing about more breaches, such as a letter to the Prime Minister from a returnee who isolated at a Hamilton hotel. 

He outlines myriad concerns - balls, Frisbees and scooters being used in exercise areas, meaning bubbles interacted.

He also talked about guests mingling, failing to physically distance, as well as water and lollipops on shared outside tables.

His family was also put on a bus with people from much higher risk countries.