18 Aug 2020

One Auckland Covid-19 case not linked to cluster

1:19 pm on 18 August 2020

Genome testing has revealed a Covid-19 case, of a worker at Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility, is not linked to the Auckland cluster.

The Rydges Hotel, which is being used as a managed isolation facility, in Auckland.

The Rydges Hotel, which is being used as a managed isolation facility, in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Two Auckland cases were under investigation, and genome sequencing on one confirmed it is connected to the current cluster.

The other is a maintenance worker at Rydges Hotel, who does not have any routine contact with guests, the Ministry of Health says.

The man's partial genome sequencing results indicate his case is not linked to the community cluster. No other cases linked to this person have been identified to date, the ministry says.

Further genome sequencing and matching is being completed today and fuller analysis is expected later.

The person returned a positive result for Covid-19 on Sunday 16 August with symptom onset on 11 August.

He was transferred to Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility on 17 August. It has taken until this morning for genomic sequencing results to confirm the origin of the case.

The sequencing shows a returnee from the US with the same sequence as the maintenance worker was at the Rydges Hotel from 28-31 July before they returned a day three positive test and were immediately moved to the Jet Park quarantine facility on 31 July.

At this stage there is no obvious person-to-person connection between the worker and the returnee from the US but investigations continue, the ministry says.

Contact tracing and testing has not connected any further cases to the maintenance worker, and to date this remains a single case.

The room the US returnee was in has been unoccupied since the case was transferred to the Jet Park quarantine facility and is still empty. The room underwent hospital-grade cleaning.

Six close contacts the man worked with at the managed isolation facility have been identified and are in self-isolation.

They have all returned negative results from surveillance testing last week, however as a precaution all staff and returnees at the Rydges are being retested via an onsite testing team. Forty-five staff members and 54 guests were tested yesterday, the remainder will be tested today.

Three household close contacts of the man are all in self-isolation and have been tested.

Interviews with the man have revealed that he attended two of the Emmanuel Cook Islands Good News Fellowship church services on the morning and evening of 9 August. Health officials have contact traced all attendees as close contacts. As of last night, all but nine of them had been tested with the remainder being tested today. All are in self-isolation.

The venue of the service is a school hall and deep cleaning of the facility is currently underway.

Health officials are currently assessing if environmental testing at the Rydges would provide any further insight, however, the frequent deep cleansing of the facility means this is most likely not possible.

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