Middlemore Hospital's Covid contacts test negative so far

Source: 1News

Middlemore Hospital's chief medical officer has confirmed all close contacts of the Covid-19 case detected on their wards have tested negative so far.

A man, who later tested positive for the virus, was admitted to the hospital in Ōtāhuhu with abdominal pains last Saturday. 

He was taken to a ward, where he shared a room with three other men, and wasn't tested for Covid-19 until the following day. 

Eight family members have since tested positive for the virus, with 29 Middlemore Hospital staff stood down after they were deemed close contacts. 

The first of those results taken of patients and staff from the ward deemed close contacts returned on Wednesday, as part of their day three testing.

Chief medical officer Dr Pete Watson confirmed all that had returned so far, were negative. 

"Everyone who has been potentially exposed in the room but more widely the ward, that's staff and patients, has been followed up with regular testing," he said. 

"In the first lot of that testing today, day three, so far they've come back negative." 

He insisted Counties Manukau DHB had done "everything" they could to mitigate risks since the exposure event. 

"We've done everything we can to assure people that while this has happened, and there is a risk, that we're across that risk." 

"We're doing what we need to ensure we detect anybody who may have been infected and we think that risk is very small." 

Watson said he's been in regular contact with the people involved as they begin to make changes in how they those who may be infected with Covid-19. 

He said Middlemore Hospital's ED has added abdominal pain and fever to its list of potential Covid-19 symptoms. 

"It wasn't on our list but abdominal pain and fever seems to have become a symptom that is not common, but we've seen it a number of times now with this Delta cluster." 

Despite concern from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation , Watson assured the large number of health staff stood down wasn't having a drastic effect on their ability to provide care. 

He acknowledged that while there is a nationwide shortage of health workers, the halt on non-urgent surgeries at Alert Level 4 has freed up staff to be redeployed to other areas. 

"We're a large organisation with nearly 10,000 staff. So even with having to stand down 29 staff, we've been able to redeploy." 

Doctors Association calls for rapid testing at New Zealand Hospitals

The New Zealand Resident Doctors Association is calling for district health boards to introduce an option for rapid Covid-19 tests, in light of the latest case found at Middlemore Hospital.

Dr Deborah Powell told 1News that patients being admitted to hospital should have swabs taken for rapid testing that can be done on site, to help bolster DHB's protection against potential outbreaks. 

"Our labs can put it through, it's just down the corridor for goodness' sake and that keeps everyone safe," she said. 

"Once we get a Covid patient inside the hospital, you can see just how severe the consequences of this are and we can't afford to do that. 

The person was sharing a room with three others on a surgical ward at Middlemore Hospital.

"We need to keep the inside protected." 

Middlemore Hospital's chief medical officer disagreed, saying it wasn't "practically feasible" as there isn't suitable options for rapid Covid-19 tests in New Zealand.

"We're really looking forward to the development of technology that are rapid and reliable," Watson said.

"Until we have the technology which is reliable and/or rapid, we're not able to do that." 

He noted that when such tests are available in New Zealand he would be "keen" to consider them.