New Zealand / Covid 19

Covid-19: MIQ worker's family returns three negative, one weak positive result - Hipkins

14:31 pm on 23 March 2021

Three members of the Covid-19 positive MIQ worker's family have tested negative, and one has returned a weak positive result, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

In a statement last night, the Ministry of Health said the case was picked up through routine surveillance testing.

Hipkins today says the rest of the case's family has been tested - three returned negative results and one returned a weak positive result.

The family member who has returned a weak-positive result is an adult.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says there are no new cases of community transmission. There are three new cases in managed isolation and one new historical case since yesterday, on top of the case reported last night.

He says while this is linked to the border, they do see this as a low risk to the community. Contact tracing and genome sequencing is well under way.

There's no evidence to suggest a change in alert level is necessary at this stage, Hipkins says.

Auckland Public Health are speaking with the family about moving them to the Auckland quarantine facility. They are also working to try to confirm their likely infectious period.

There is one location of interest, the Mt Roskill Countdown, visited for about 10 minutes on Saturday, 20 March. More details will be on the Ministry of Health website. Anyone who went to that Countdown who has Covid-19 symptoms needs to be alert, stay at home and get a test.

Hipkins says the investigation will look into epidemiological links and genomic links. CCTV surveillance will also be looked at, he says.

Dr Bloomfield says genome sequencing is under way. Results should be back later today, which will determine the link between these cases, and any recent cases at the Grand Millennium Hotel. There have been eight recent cases of Covid-19 at the hotel.

The worker, 'Case A' is a cleaner at the Grand Millenium hotel and was at work yesterday but was wearing a mask for the duration of their shift. They had not worked for the three days prior, he says.

The person was on fortnightly survellience swabs and routinely used the NZ Covid Tracer app, he says. Two colleagues who worked closely with them are now in isolation.

Dr Bloomfield says they should have been swabbed on Thursday last week, but that was delayed until Sunday "for a very good personal reason" and happened before they returned to work on Monday, 19 days after their last swab was taken. Workers are meant to be tested fortnightly.

The worker had been vaccinated against the virus.

Hipkins says the expectation is that MIQ staff will continue to be paid if they contract Covid-19 in an MIQ facility.

Dr Bloomfield says they were vaccinated on 23 February and with a second dose on 16 March. The vaccine cannot give a person Covid-19, but it takes some time to build an immune response.

"There is no such thing as a 100 percent effective vaccine," Hipkins says.

"A 95 percent effectiveness rate is very high," Dr Bloomfield says.

He says people are likely to get the full effectiveness of the vaccine after seven days of having the second dose. Case A had their second dose only a few days before testing positive.

Their family had not yet been vaccinated.

Contact tracing so far shows very limited exposure. And the Grand Millennium worker remains asymptomatic. Hipkins says this all bodes well.

Hipkins says the government needs to work quickly to keep the risk to the community low.

He says the use of PPE in isolation facilities is regularly audited. Very mild to moderate improvements were suggested when the Grand Millennium was audited in January, he says.

The audit showed nothing of great concern, he says.

The Grand Millenium is the biggest managed isolation facility and has served New Zealand well, Hipkins says.

Washing hands and sanitising continue to be important things New Zealanders need to be doing, as is scanning in, he said.

Hipkins says 38,808 total vaccines had been administered as of midnight last night, with 4658 of those being second doses.

He says more than 2000 people are being vaccinated each day, and that number is trending upwards.

Over the coming weeks, more and more vaccination centres will open, Hipkins says.

"We will continue to see cases and that doesn't mean there's a failure - a vaccine failure or a border failure," Dr Bloomfield says.

Yesterday, other than the worker, there were eight cases in MIQ and none in the community.

Dr Bloomfield says his main recollection of announcing the nationwide lockdown a year ago is that people did not ask why, they embraced it widely.