Dr Siouxsie Wiles expresses concern over Crowne Plaza public thoroughfare

Source: 1News

Experts are questioning a flimsy perspex wall separating returning travellers with Covid-19 and the general public which has been identified as the potential ground zero for New Zealand's latest outbreak.

The two-metre high wall is located in a public thoroughfare adjacent to the lobby of the Crowne Plaza isolation facility in Auckland's CBD.

Auckland University microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles told 1 NEWS the wall was incapable of stopping the potential spread of Covid from an isolating traveller to a passing member of the public.

"Unless the perspex barrier goes from ceiling to floor, then obviously air can circulate within that space," Wiles told 1 NEWS.

Perspex wall in Auckland Crowne Plaza lobby.

CCTV footage has found six members of the public were in the atrium at the same time a returnee with Covid-19 arrived in the hotel lobby on the other side of the wall.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said three had tested negative, one was in the process of getting tested and two were still yet to be identified.

A vaccination centre is also in the building, with a number of people telling 1 NEWS they lined up alongside the wall waiting for their jab. Others have seen returnees standing right beside the perspex talking to what appears to be friends or family over it.

While Ardern said the walkway had not been established as a problem and had been assessed by those who undertake the Government's infection controls, Dr Wiles said the perspex was "not enough".

"With this virus being airborne, we absolutely have to stop any possibility of transmission through that route. So a perspex screen is not it, looking at ventilation, it may well be there were lots of air changes but that may well not have been enough either."

Wiles told 1 NEWS there are a number of things health officials will be investigating.

The investigation continues as the number of infected surges, now at 107 just six days since the first case was identified.

More than half of all cases in this outbreak are in the Pasifika community, while there are over 13,000 close contacts.

Ardern announced today the Level 4 lockdown would remain in place nationwide until at least Friday, while Auckland would be under those restrictions until at least next Tuesday.