One new Covid-19 border case — Air NZ crew member who returned from Japan; one location of interest

Source: 1News

An Air New Zealand crew member who returned to New Zealand from Japan on February 28, and returned a negative Covid-19 result, has subsequently tested positive for the virus today.

The person had a swab taken yesterday as part of routine surveillance testing, and they were moved to Auckland’s quarantine facility today after the test result was returned, the Ministry of Health said in a statement tonight.

The individual’s three household family members have already been tested today and the results are all negative.

Fourteen other air crew on the same journey as the latest case are in the process of being contacted, isolated and retested. 

"The Public Health initial assessment is there is low risk to the public due to Auckland being at Alert Level 3 for the period in which this case was back in New Zealand and were either in isolation or at home for most of that time," the Ministry of Health said.

Since January this year, Air New Zealand crew who have travelled from high-risk countries have had to stay in a hotel for 48 hours.

They undergo a test while in isolation and if negative can leave after the 48 hour period.

"The aircrew member tested negative for Covid-19 on 23 and 28 February as part of the regular surveillance testing programme in place for international aircrew," Air New Zealand Chief Medical Officer Dr Ben Johnston told 1 NEWS in a statement tonight.

"Their last duty was flight NZ90 from Tokyo to Auckland on 28 February, after which they returned a negative Covid-19 test. On 6 March they were tested again in Auckland as part of their regular surveillance testing and returned a positive test," Johnston said.

"There are significant precautions in place for our crew operating to international destinations set out by the Ministry of Health, and we are confident that our people are following the protocols diligently.

"For Japan, these include taking private transport to and from their hotel, isolating in the hotel while on layover and wearing PPE while travelling to and from the hotel, through the airport and on board. Aircrew are also subject to regular surveillance testing where they are tested up to once every seven days."

Air New Zealand has confirmed Japan is considered a medium risk layover.

For medium risk layovers measures include:
• Air crew wear masks and gloves when moving through the terminal
• Air crew use private crew transport to hotels, not mixing with other passengers
• Air crew isolate in hotels, limiting trips outside to 1hr per 24-hour period
• Air crew are not allowed to use the hotel gym or pool while on layover
• Air crew are not allowed to meet with other crew while on layover

Meanwhile, there is currently one location of interest – the Auckland Airport Countdown on 3 March between 12.07pm and 1.22pm.

Countdown's General Manager Health and Safety, Kiri Hannifin said in a statement tonight that the store was undergoing a deep clean overnight.

"We have been contacted by the Auckland District Health Board this evening about a visit to our Countdown Auckland Airport store by a person who has unfortunately now been found to have Covid-19. 

"The Ministry of Health has advised us that this visit is deemed low-risk and casual contact exposure. Any customers who shopped in the store at this time aren’t required to self isolate, but should get a test if they develop any symptoms.

"We are now going through our own processes, including giving the store a deep clean overnight as an extra precaution. We already have rigorous cleaning and hygiene practices in place in all of our stores, as well as strong physical distancing measures. We’ve also got greeters in place to remind customers to scan in using the Covid app - something we strongly recommend customers keep doing," Hannifin said. 

Anyone who was at the store at this time is asked by the Ministry of Health to monitor their health for the next 10 days (until March 17).

If they feel unwell or develop symptoms, they should contact Healthline on 0800 358 5454, and get tested and stay at home until a negative test result is received.

Testing is available at six community testing centres (CTCs) throughout Auckland as well as at general practices and urgent care clinics.