7 Sep 2021

29 staff at Middlemore Hospital stood down after identified as close contacts

9:31 pm on 7 September 2021

The Ministry of Health has confirmed 29 staff at Middlemore Hospital are close contacts of a Covid-19 case and have been stood down for 14 days.

Middlemore Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Four wards are closed to any new admissions and all patients are being managed under strict infection and prevention control measures, including the full use of PPE, and treated as if they have been exposed to Covid-19.

The person who tested positive for the virus showed up at Middlemore's emergency department on Saturday with abdominal pains.

He denied having knowledge of being in contact with the virus or being in a location of interest and didn't have any other symptoms.

The Ministry said the patient subsequently developed a fever and was later confirmed with Covid-19 and moved to a dedicated ward.

The three patients who initially shared a room with the case are now in isolation. One has been discharged to a managed isolation facility and the other two will stay in isolation rooms at the hospital as they continue receiving treatment.

The chief medical officer visited these patients last night to talk to them and provided further advice to their whānau.

Among the 29 staff who are considered close contacts are doctors, nurses and cleaners.

"Middlemore Hospital is actively reviewing staffing daily and, like other DHBs in the region, are experiencing significant shortages of both registered nurses and health care assistants," the Ministry of Health said.

"A national process is underway across all DHBs to identify and send staff to Auckland to support the Covid-19 response.

"The Ministry of Health is working with metro-Auckland DHBs to match available staff to need and will continue to deploy staff as required to ensure they have the resources they need."

Middlemore Hospital has also investigated the ventilation systems in the affected area, but the likelihood of the virus being spread to other wards is extremely low.

Counties Manukau District Health Board would undertake an internal review of what had occurred.

It has already updated its clinical assessment tool, which clinical staff should refer to when assessing all patients, to increase the range of symptoms that warrant Covid-19 testing, the ministry said.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed earlier today that eight of the 11 people in the same household as the patient with the virus have also tested positive for Covid-19.

He said the Auckland Regional Public Health Service was investigating how the became infected, but they were following up a strong lead.

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