Community case may prompt change in alert level tomorrow

Overstayers can take Covid-19 test without fear of ‘repercussions’

Auckland CBD workers asked to stay indoors

Staff Reporter
Wellington, November 12, 2020

Overstayers can take Covid-19 test without fear of ‘repercussions’
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins

The New Zealand government may review the Covid-19 Alert Level in Auckland tomorrow (Friday) after a person in the community was found to have contracted the virus.

The country’s largest city is now on Alert Level One.

Although no direct source of the infection has been identified, it is understood that a student, in her 20s, was asked by her employer to report to work wearing a mask despite being tested positive for Coronavirus.

She was employed at A-Z Store on High Street in the Central Business District in a role that placed her in direct contact with customers.

Bad Call: Auckland Mayor

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff described the action of the A-Z Store manager as a bad call.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff (INL Photo)

“That is frankly unbelievable. I just cannot understand that. It defies common sense. There is a lesson here. You would think that was a lesson people did not need to learn. If you have symptoms, get tested, while you are waiting for the test result, stay at home, self-isolate.  That is a basic rule,” he said.

Auckland Council will close its three offices in central Auckland tomorrow, along with a number of community facilities and venues, including Auckland Central City Library, Tepid Baths, Auckland Town Hall, Waitematā Local Board office, service centres at Bledisloe House and Graham Street.

“People should follow rules to keep the Virus out,” Mr Goff said.

Disappointing: Covid-19 Response Minister

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that the situation was disappointing and asked employers to be “good” and accommodate staff calling in sick by allowing them to stay at home.

“While the number of people at the person’s workplace is small, the apartment complex is large. Testing at the site is about to get under way and suggestions of the source of the infection at this point are speculation,” he said.

Public Health actions

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said that Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has interviewed the worker and that she has three close contacts, including a colleague and two friends and that they have been asked to isolate themselves as a precaution.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay (YouTube)

“Her apartment building is next door to a managed isolation facility. The facility, a hotel, had a fire alarm evacuation on Monday night, but that is not likely to be the source of the infection because the woman became symptomatic that same day. All residents of the Vincent Residences have been asked to go home and stay home while testing takes place. The apartment building is being deep cleaned and a mobile testing station will be available outside,” she said.

Dr McElnay said that ARPHS is providing the requisite information to the residents at the apartment building and that since the person was already symptomatic, reports of mingling between guests and the public are unlikely to point to a source of infection.

She said that the person took Uber trips to work and those drivers are being contacted and advised to be tested.

There was no history of the positive case moving outside the Auckland CBD.

Queue at Testing Station

People have been queuing at a pop-up testing station in Freiberg Place, off High Street, which is about 100m from the store A-Z store where the woman worked.

The government has appealed to people employed in the Auckland Business District to work from their homes ‘if possible’ tomorrow, Friday, November 13, 2020.

There have been four recent imported cases of Covid-19 at the managed isolation facility next to which the infected woman lives. Health officials have the genome sequencing and hence will be able to see whether there is any link.

Places the woman visited

On Saturday, November 7, 2020: 350pm – 6pm Smith and Caughey’s Department Store, Queen Street; 6pm – 830pm: Red Pig Restaurant, Kitchener Street

On Sunday, November 8, 2020: 1130am-1145am Takeaways from Starbucks Queen Street and Sunnytown Restaurant, Lorne Street; 640pm-6:50pm: Takeaways from The Gateau House, 332 Queen Street

Monday, November 9, 2020: 1131am-1140am: Takeaways from Starbucks, Queen Street and from Sunnytown Restaurant, Lorne Street

The ARPHS website has a full list of testing locations.

McElnay reiterates the advice that anyone in the country with cold or flu symptoms should get tested and stay home until they get tests back.

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