24 Aug 2020

More details around bus trip with Covid-19 emerge

7:59 pm on 24 August 2020

A bus trip covering a distance of 750 metres, made by three people who have since been confirmed to have Covid-19, is believed to have taken two and a half hours.

Woman using public transport during Covid-19 crisis wearing face mask.

File image. Photo: 123RF

Health officials have been working with Auckland Transport to determine the details around this bus trip since it was first brought up by Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Friday.

When it was first mentioned, it connected the St Luke's Mall Worker - whose positive result for Covid-19 was under investigation - with another person, who was linked to the Auckland cluster.

Since then, details emerging about the bus trip have raised more questions.

The trip in question: the 22N Service from Symonds Street Overbridge (Stop 7162) to New North Road (8200). The date: Wednesday 12 August, the day Auckland moved into Alert Level Three. The time: between 10:30am and 1:04pm.

According to Auckland Regional Public Health, the trip took two and a half hours. The reason for this was because "there was very bad traffic congestion that morning as people were heading home before the midday lockdown," the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) said.

They said the two people sat on the bus for an hour at Symonds Street.

According to Auckland Transport's website, the trip from Stop 7162 to Stop 8200 can be walked in 11 minutes. By bus, albeit with no traffic, it takes 3 minutes.

On Google Maps, from one stop to the other, it is 750 metres.

When asked whether these were the correct bus stops, the ARPHS said this was the information provided by Auckland Transport and was correct.

Speaking to Checkpoint, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said it was not yet categorically proven two positive Covid-19 cases took the same bus.

"As of this morning that hadn't been 100 percent confirmed yet. I haven't had the latest update, but it certainly looks very likely given the route they travelled, time they travelled, and description."

He said descriptions from two Covid-19 cases who caught the bus revealed they sat towards the back, but it was not known exactly what seats they were on.

"We know they both sat near the back of the bus. Both of the people describe being caught in traffic sitting at the back of the bus, and it would appear they were on the same bus."

Announced earlier today, another person who was on the bus at the same time has since tested positive.

Efforts are being made by ARPHS and Auckland Transport to follow-up on all the close contacts from the bus trip made on 12 August.

There were 16 passengers on the trip, plus the driver, of which only 11 were considered close contacts. Of these, seven have been contacted using their AT HOP cards. Of the remaining four, two were using unregistered HOP cards, and for two people, ARPHS only has their names only.

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