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The Ministry of Health says that the systems are working since identifying the positive test results of two people who work at Christchurch Airport’s Sudima managed isolation facility putting a ‘ring around the virus’ to stop it from spreading in the community.
A reminder was given that if you have developed symptoms related to COVID-19 are being encouraged to act with haste in seeking advice on getting a test.
The first health care worker that returned a positive sought test quickly after developing mild symptoms did the right thing allowed the Ministry of Health to isolate Case A and trace and test their contacts rapidly.
Identification of a further positive case in another health care worker, Case B, was able to have their close contacts quickly traced and tested.
Nationwide testing has taken place in the managed isolation facility and the contacts of the two health care workers.
Staff who did work at the Sudima Hotel since October 23 have also been tested, with 193 of them returning negative results so far.
All of Case A’s close contacts returned a negative result, and all results received from Case B’s close contacts are negative to date with one result current as outstanding.
“Investigations are ongoing to determine when exactly the health care workers were exposed to the virus, but we believe them to have been infected by the international mariners they have been caring for, 31 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19,” said the Ministry of Health.
The genome of Case A is B1.1.7 — of the international mariners who had tests return positive for COVID-19, and five of those are part of the B1.1.7 lineage.
Case A’s genome is an exact match with the genomes that were taken from the five mariners which further indicated a high likelihood that one of the guests is the source of the health care worker’s original infection.
The Ministry says that they are awaiting genome sequencing results for Case B.
The health care workers all wore PPE gear while conducting their usual work but the Ministry says that this virus is trick and has thwarted their systems before.
“As we have done after other events, a review will be undertaken at the managed isolation facility at the Sudima to assess where procedures could be improved to prevent similar infections in the future. These reviews have taken place at other managed isolation facilities and are part of our approach to continually improve how we manage COVID-19,” said the Ministry of Health.
The Community and Public Health teams in Christchurch have conducted detailed investigations including any interviews and contact tracing, bringing confidence that the risk is extremely low of re-exposure from the health care workers to the mariners.
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