Nurses who work regularly in Auckland City Hospital's Ward 65 are being told to self-isolate and get tested after a nurse worked four shifts while infected with covid-19.
The nurse is a close contact of someone who worked with the first case to be discovered. The Ministry of Health said the health worker was fully vaccinated and had been working in recent days.
Auckland City Hospital has written to all staff asking them to stay home if unwell, to wear masks and to restrict their movement around the buildings as much as possible.
The ministry said the four cases reported this morning are a workmate of the case announced yesterday and three contacts of the workmate.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this morning that the 58-year-old Devonport man, whose case was the first discovered, has the Delta variant.
Staff who visited the ward where a nurse infected with covid was working do not have to isolate.
The woman is part of the latest cluster of cases that has sent the country into level four.
All those who regularly work on Ward 65 at Auckland City Hospital, the general medical ward where the woman works, were told by hospital bosses to isolate and get a test.
But those who briefly visited as part of their work were told they only had to monitor their symptoms.
RNZ understands there is anxiety from some staff because they could have have been in many other parts of the hospital.
A testing centre has been set up on level 6.
Those who have not yet been vaccinated are told they can get a priority appointment, despite the main vaccination programmes being called off for two days.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said 88 per cent of Auckland District Health board staff are fully vaccinated while 91 per cent have had at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Those who work at the hospital, and other clinics, have been sent a series of emails from the Auckland district health board updating them on the situation and advising them what to do.
Those who can work from home are asked to, while those who need to come into work are asked to limit their movement around the hospital.
Several cafeterias and coffee stations have been closed to avoid people congregating, with workers told to bring food from home if they can.
The hospital has called off most planned appointments but RNZ understands a lot of surgery is still going ahead.
People are urged to still go to hospital if they are in labour, or need emergency or urgent care.
There are restrictions to visitors at all Auckland DHB hospitals.
Auckland District Health Board said in a statement the public would be safe in their hospitals.
Though most scheduled appointments would be postponed, hospitals were providing essential and urgent care and emergency departments were open.
It had confidence in the measures being taken and in staff to manage the situation safely, it said.
Auckland DHB message to patients:
- If you have an emergency, or you go into labour or your child or whānau member is ill, please follow the normal procedures. Dial 111 or our emergency departments will be operating to provide appropriate care.
- As you usually do, if have a health issue that isn't an emergency, please call your GP or give Healthline a call 0800 611 116.
- Most planned and scheduled appointments will be postponed - patients will be contacted directly by one of our hospital team to reschedule appointments.
- To help maintain physical distancing, visitor restrictions are in place at Auckland City Hospital, Starship Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre.
New Zealand Nursing Organisation manager of industrial services Glenda Alexander said despite the country's best efforts to keep the Delta variant out, it had arrived, and she was saddened to hear a nursing colleague had been affected.
The organisation yesterday called the planned nationwide nurses strike. Alexander said while they remained frustrated with chronic understaffing, withdrawing strike action during a national emergency was the right thing to do.
More than 30,000 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants had been due to walk off the job tomorrow after failing to reach agreements over pay and conditions with the district health boards.
This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.
All of New Zealand is now at Covid-19 alert level 4.
The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula which is likely to remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.
A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.
Stay at home where possible & follow the Alert Level 4 guidelines. This will stop the spread of COVID-19 and SAVE LIVES.
Everyone is asked to:
Wear a mask and keep a 2 metre distance from others whenever you leave your home.
If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.
Keep on scanning QR codes whenever you leave your home.
Practice good hygiene - wash hands often.
Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics & petrol stations will stay open at Alert Level 4.
For more information on Alert Level 4 go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]
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Kia Kaha - Stay Strong