26 Mar 2021

Buses to exercise paused for MIQ as investigations underway

From Checkpoint, 5:26 pm on 26 March 2021

The boss of MIQ has pushed pause on exercise excursions beyond the gates of isolation hotels for 24 hours - while a series of botch-ups are investigated.

Returnees from the Grand Mercure hotel in down town Auckland were being bused to a park, suburbs away to exercise.

But 14 of them have had their isolation stay extended by two weeks, after a guest whose Covid-19 test came out positive while they were out walking, was allowed back on the bus to the hotel with more than a dozen other guests.

Since then, genome sequencing has linked that returnee with another Mercure guest infected with the same UK strain of the virus - raising concerns that Covid-19 has been allowed to spread inside the hotel.

Head of MIQ Brigadier Jim Bliss says the bus trips offered at four Auckland isolation hotels are off for now.

Brigadier Bliss apologised to those forced to spend an extra two weeks in isolation because of the slip up, and said they had been given the option to shift to another isolation hotel.

The suspected transmission of Covid-19 within the Grand Mercure also means hundreds of past guests need to be tracked down and re-tested.

Meanwhile Dr Bloomfield says 5,000 Pfizer jabs will be given over the weekend as the immunisation programme ramps up.

Both Brigadier Bliss and Dr Bloomfield were not available for an interview on Checkpoint.