Genome testing has revealed that one confirmed case seemingly contracted the virus at the Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility

Genome testing has revealed that one confirmed case seemingly contracted the virus at the Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility
Ashley Bloomfield. Getty Images.

A previously confirmed case of Covid-19 has been found to NOT be linked to the new cluster in Auckland.

Instead genome testing results suggest the person - a maintenance worker - caught it at the Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility in downtown Auckland. The case had been reported on Monday as part of the nine cases reported then.

Immediate contacts of the maintenance worker have been tested and come back negative.

The testing sequence from the maintenance worker showed the same sequence as a traveller who returned from the United States and who had been at Rydges till testing positive and then being transferred to the Jet Park. (See here for latest Covid case numbers)

This is the release from the Ministry of Health:

Results of genome testing from two Auckland COVID-19 cases that were under investigation have returned this morning confirming one case is connected to the Auckland August cluster.  

The second case is a man who works as a maintenance worker at the Rydges Hotel managed isolation facility in Auckland who does not have any routine contact with guests. His 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.  

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 Monday 17 August. It has taken till this morning for genomic sequencing results to confirm the origin of the case.

Genome sequencing shows a returnee from the USA with the same sequence as the maintenance worker was at the Rydges Hotel from 28 July to 31 July before they returned a Day 3 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 USA but investigations continue.

Initial reviews of CCTV footage and swipe card movements so far show no interaction between the two people including no entry to physical locations occupied by the returnee from the USA.

The room the USA 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 with hydrogen peroxide vapour sanitation using a BioQuell machine.

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

Six close contacts he 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 again 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.

Actions undertaken at the Rydges Managed Isolation Facility

As soon as the positive test was established a series of actions were undertaken immediately at Rydges including:

·        The hotel was put into immediate lock down on Sunday morning, as soon as the positive test was returned.  

·        Thorough cleaning of shared areas of the hotel was carried out.

·        Close contacts of the staff member identified and put into self-isolation until tested (noting that this staff member was not in a public-facing role)

·        Lock down of guests in hotel lifted once cleaning completed and close contacts identified.

·        Close analysis of movements were undertaken at including:

- Review of CCTV

- Review of room entry data to look for connection to cases

·        Genomic Sequence sought from ESR

·        Health advice sought

·        Further testing of all returnees and staff undertaken

·        Confirmation that infection prevention controls have been followed

·        Normal procedures resumed

The man carried out maintenance tasks on vacant rooms between bookings, following full infection prevention and controls, including wearing PPE.

100% of staff have been tested since the Auckland outbreak, and as a precaution all staff are being retested. Returnees are also undergoing testing and in some cases, being retested now.

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81 Comments

a good point raised today.
why are we using two hospitals and wards in auckland for covid cases and exposing two sets of nurses and doctors but we use one facility to reduce those exposed for the rest

I had wondered that too. Does seem a bit odd.

Doesn't make much sense IMO. Considering we are now quarantining all cases in NZ, into a single facility to reduce spread.

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As long as we have hundreds of arrivals everyday from India, Pakistan, USA, Afghanistan, UK, China, etc (NZ citizens, Permanent Residents, 2 year Resident visas, 1 year Resident visas etc) then it is inevitable that this virus will slip out at some time. Add the shipping, air freight, crews, border staff, port staff, etc.
it’s just a matter of time.

I thought it was just citizens and permanent residents. What's the basis of the claim for shorter term residence visa holders being allowed? I know one person I work with who went to Europe in Feb and isn't allowed back.

"New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions can still come to New Zealand. Immediate family of New Zealand citizens and residents (partner or spouse, legal guardian and dependent children under the age of 24) must seek approval from Immigration New Zealand using the limited exceptions process"
Limited Exceptions -
https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/news/covid-19-advice-new-zealanders-overseas

Hrm. Doesn't entirely square with what I've heard. Would be interesting to know what's actually happening in practice.

Yes - the Team of 5 Million should be able to read a list of visa types and "exception" of every arrival every day.
We can help assess the risk!

I know someone who through an unfortunate piece of timing ended up here with his kids whilst his Aussie wife is still stuck in Aussie (or was when I spoke to him 6 weeks ago) - I mean come on - they were prepared to pay for isolation and everything - responsible adults - years of history - the bureaucrats are pontificating - the team of 5 million would have stamped her in months ago

was the reason this end or aussie ?, they are ruling most austrlians can not leave and are granting very few exemptions
If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption.
https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/i-am-on-prison-island-australia-s-tr...

That's tough - The kiwi partner may need to return to Aus then come back to NZ with partner?

Its an interesting one. I'm based in Sydney, but technically if I want to travel to NZ I need approval from the Australia govt to depart Australia given NZers are permanent residents over here.

Im guessing its a fairly automated process (otherwise we would of heard about it), but theres a bit going on behind the scenes re: international people movement, before the tyres even leave the ground.

a residence visa with travel conditions is pretty legally the same as a permanent residence. it's just the one you get before PR, and doesn't have an expiry unless you leave the country after two years and don't renew it. (this is often a partner's visa to an nz citizen, which you get after the initial 1 year visa)

Thumb up for leaving innocent China out of your country list.

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Your loyalty to the CCP is really noteworthy.

I am loyal to good quality, kindness, smartness, hard-working, fair and just, harmony, order, passion, love, compassion, encouragement, being organised, firm actions...

Ask Jimmy Lai whether he shares your 'good puppy' loyalty

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Compassion?
A few million Uigyars may disagree with you...

Ask Ted Hui about the 'loyal dog' Guoanbu goon who was following him. 有牌爛仔

I think all of you just got trolled by the 50 cent army lol. He is clearly stating everything not CCP.

Maybe they don't count as real Chinese?

Got any spare kidneys to sell Xing?

I see you've misspelled "really noteworthy" the correct spelling is "M-A-N-D-A-T-O-R-Y"

LOLOLOL

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Innocent?
We should be sending the CCP the bill!
Either mismanagement or deliberate global sabotage.
Innocent citizens, yes. Govt no.

WHO praised how the CCP managed the outbreaks in many many occasions.

I trust WHO's CEO comments more than other sources.

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Nobody trusts the WHO or the CCP.

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WHO are incompetent and corrupt.
Just like CCP leadership.

If the CCP leadership was so competent they would have done much more to stamp out those dodgy wildlife markets.
Which are environmentally criminal, inhumane, and reservoirs for disease...

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I used to trust the WHO too, until they ignored Taiwan right at the early stage of the pandemic (December) and robbed the world of an early warning siren, until they said there was no need for border restrictions and criticised countries like NZ for taking early action at their borders, until they were slow to recognise a pandemic forming and chose to behave politically rather than neutrally.

We are in an era when facts are easily undermined, when fake news abounds. It can be hard to know who to trust but without WHO neutrality and early action for the world to rally around, we were crippled as a global population in our pandemic response and the WHO have some responsibility in that.

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Taiwan is a beacon of light to the world - in how to ignore lies from rogue states, and be ready for anything.

MortgageBelt, yes but that is still a political statement. We need a WHO that doesn't in any way acknowledge the geopolitics that are constantly going on around the world. We need a WHO that doesn't get dragged into the politics of CCP vs Taiwan. Who would engage with Taiwan CDC data just as readily as CCP CDC data and make their own private, discreet assessment of what might be lies or fact based on the data but NOT engage with that publicly or politically but to remain completely silent on that.

We need neutrality. Global leaders will not respect a "World Health Organisation" that actually doesn't represent the world's health. The WHO needs to be the one that holds that neutrality boundary. It needs to be an organisation completely apart from geopolitics but instead they got dragged into making a bunch of statements about this country and that. We ***know*** that governments lie. They ***all*** do. We know that health crisis can easily be manipulated and politicised. But in immediately displaying partiality the WHO compromised the entire global pandemic response, leaving us without a trusted neutral organisation to rally around. The minute it was uncovered that the WHO overlooked Taiwan's CDC, heads should have rolled at the WHO, so that trust in the WHO could have been restored but instead they just lost all credibility and relevance and the politicising of the pandemic just escalated.

It's too late now. Clearly the WHO have no intention of taking responsibility for their failures and so they have lost credibility. And Fritz, I agree, much responsibility should be laid at the WHO's door.

Don’t know even if the WHO had been neutral, even if they had been pro-active, even if they had been clarion, that the CCP would have taken one iota of notice or action. That is demonstrated by the sealing off domestically of the Wuhan region while still flying airplanes to the rest of the world. The strident outcry when the USA closed its border, protest to NZ on this too. The CCP has no interest except self interest and now they are resentful and threatening those that have unsurprisingly, dared to question their trustworthiness.

This.
Only suggestion - 'some responsibility' should be 'much responsibility'

Just a shame that they are treating the symptom and not the cause of the outbreak.

No it's not inevitable. It's a choice. Given the eradication policy the govt has control over whether they want to employ bullet proof border measures for a few hundred millions to billion extra per year, with lots of care and attention to detail and logistics, and proper quarantining of aircrews too, or carry on with the lax approach that seems to typify everything they do (other than PR) and have multiple lockdowns a year at $5-15billion a time. Seems a pretty simple choice to me, but unfortunately it requires capable leadership that Labour have never as yet shown themselves capable of.

Go back and listen to what Hipkins said this afternoon. He refers specifically to fact that good tracing results currently getting means that no lockdown would be required next time, if such good tracing maintained. Plus, critically, that there is NO guaranteed way of ensuring nil escaped cases or total elimination of virus without vaccine.
100,000 teests and 60 cases. Do you recognise what % that is?? It is minuscule. And the virus is not ebola

Realistically, can NZ really keep it out forever?
Maybe not Ebola, but more infectious than the flu.

That is why we thought everyone associated with it were being regually tested (swabbed, not just temperature checked which is not a substitute). Testing on a very regular basis is the only way to be relatively sure if someone has picked it up. PPE is not foolproof, especially when not used properly. .

More imprisonment coming our way. But no worries, Robbo has more 'saved' munny to throw around.

That's a real mystery. Get Mulder and Scully on the case.

without throwing aspersion I'm expecting the obvious to be the case here but will we get any admission or proof?

No need, we have Punch & Judy.

The Contact Tracing Card has got the Green light - Trial.

Good.

Why returnees have to be housed in many hotel spread all around Auckland! Why can’t they spend two weeks in a military base, where no one can get out

Well, me old chocolate biscuit, the authorities prefer accomodation which includes a bathroom attached to each bedroom, making the room self contained, so patients can be isolated. My, admittedly distant, experience of military bases, informs me that ablution facilites are located at a distance from the sleeping accomodation.

With correspondingly more opportunity for clandestine nocturnal group activities...

Things have improved since the first world war...wait have they?

Bed pans are pretty low tech. As are long-drops, and porta-loos. But regardless we need a few 1000 quarantining units built somewhere out of Auckland. Would cost around $10k each.

Add in some drill sergeants as well - may as get them fighting fit while they have some time. Maybe also add some jobs..making masks ..5cents and hour

Maybe they can extend the runway at the airport and 4 lane SH1 in their downtime

I'm confused.. Jacinda said we just needed to manage the cluster and neednt worry about how it got in.... but now we have another unrelated case. Hmm, perhaps the complete and utter bungling and failing to ensure border and quarantine staff are being regularly tested is an area for concern after all.

Bloomfield says the lack of testing of frontline staff was disclosed to Ardern and Hipkins.

So, Jacinda/Chris - you have dropped the ball and the team of 5 million are wanting answers.

Not sure the smile will work.. best adopt the frowny face at the next press conference. That'll work

"Jacinda said we just needed to manage the cluster and neednt worry about how it got in" ...she actually said that..link please?

If Jacinda didn't say it Hipkins certainly did, on both last Saturday and Sunday - especially Sunday when he sounded off about rumours on social media.

She implied it very clearly on Friday during the briefing "it is possible to contain a cluster or outbreak without ever being able to identify its origin." But this would undermine the point of elimination. Containing the outbreak is as important as identifying its origin.

That’s not clear at all, did she state finding the origin was not important? No, she’s just stating correctly that an outbreak can be contained without knowing the origin. Obviously finding the origin is important in allowing one to improve future border control.

the link....https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/cabinet-agrees-maintain-our-...

She says "we have learnt from elsewhere we can control a cluster without ever knowing the source, but what is important is we manage the perimeter of the cluster....".

Yes its important to manage the cluster... but it is equally important to identify the source to ensure what ever gap in the border is addressed. That's my point.

Fantastic reality check from Hipkins today in response to inane media: "there is no 100% safety guarantee"
Yes, quite. At last an adult remark.
This is risk reduction, NOT safety guarantee, because there is none.
If there were, nurses and Drs in full PPE would not keep dying of Virus would they.
People need to grow up a bit, esp reporters after a dramatic outbreak
Other notable thing Hipkins said, media ignored: as tracing working so well, next time there is an outbreak, will not need lockdown - this is what public wants to hear, not endless bleating about porous border and testing. We have had 100,000 tests in 5 days, with 60 positive. No big drama, sorry Tova etc

M29, not to take anything away from what you have said but luck is also on our side so far. The Americold worker was not in a public facing role, not sure about the rest of his household, and now the Rydges maintenance worker is also not public facing. Things could easily have been a lot worse.

100, 000 tests, 60 cases.
Quite the epidemic eh...?
Media love a drama

I don't get the hysteria over testing - whilst it has picked up the Rydges guy, it is reactive and only valid for a point-in-time.
If they'd tested him 2-3 weeks ago we would still have missed it.
It will have to be continuous testing to make a difference. What will be the period for frontline staff? backroom staff?
Will it make people become more complacent?

Safe protected processes must become second nature and I guess having a swab up your nose will now have to be one of them.

If they'd tested 3 times over the 14 days instead of twice ( or not at all for some) it would have been pounced on. Mandatory testing of the border staff should have been initiated from day one. Enough with the "touchy feely" we can't really compel people to undergo a procedure.. what a crock. The HSE legislation has ample precedence and guidance

Who has started suggesting 3 tests are required, and over what time frame? I assume this wisdom on this being the best way to do things has come from somewhere other than reactionary hindsight?

testing weekly it gives a point in time to track back to
if you test weekly you know the last point they were negative give or take a few days before, so tracking their movements back is easier, especially as the two index cases this time show no human to human contact,
more of a worry was getting through the daily health check for two days with a cough and no other symptoms only came to light due to being tested because of mandatory testing

It's not the tests vs positive #. It's the "where the F%$k did those unlinked ones come from" The Americold vector can be put down to someone just having selective memory.. the Rydges one is a whole new paradigm

lol...I'd love all the commenters here to run the )health) response to this pandemic and be publicly judged by their actions....the reality is they would all make a complete dogs bollocks of it....let the 'experts' do what you cannot....and fuck up.

Well the "experts" have been doing it.. and screwing it up. If common sense had prevailed and some "real world" experience applied we wouldn't be having this issue

You mean like all those other countries that have avoided a second outbreak? Yeah those ones *facepalm

Do I get to bullshit and blather on and get others to spin for me, regardless of how badly I fail, and just lie and say I did a good job anyway? Because that actually seems really easy tbh.

looks like they are getting ready to through someone under the bus,
Dr Shane Reti: So did those regular weekly updates demonstrate incomplete testing at the border?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes.
Dr Shane Reti: When the Director-General of Health said about the lack of testing of border staff, "There was clearly a dissonance between what the prime minister thought was happening and what was happening on the ground", what was the cause of that dissonance?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: That's something that the member would have to ask the director-general
Dr Shane Reti: Will he release all relevant information he's received on incomplete border testing, and, if not, why not?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, of course, the Government will be releasing all of the relevant information, as we're obliged to do.
https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_202...

Surely, Labour wouldn’t dare to throw Ashley under the bus?!
That’s election-losing stuff.

'The man carried out maintenance tasks on vacant rooms, following full infection prevention and controls, including wearing PPE'
If this statement is true and the guy complied with cleaning processes as claimed by MoH, that must mean the virus picked up from a hard surface or soft materials can defeat PPE protection. I've not seen evidence from over seas to support this but imagine some of the scientific commentators will know. Or is it more butt covering spin from government ?

a lot of nurses at doctors in melbourne have caught it so PPE will only protect so much
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-08/melbourne-nurse-with-covid-19-sha...
a family of four were the starting point for an outbreak in melbourne and the night manager was the first infected
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-18/victoria-covid-crisis-traced-back...

Thanks , that's interesting. But I was more wondering about evidence of the effectiveness of PPE in preventing 'passive' infection from surfaces as opposed to human to human direct spread where I imagine the transmission risk in airborne particles is considerably higher. If fully PPE clad cleaners following MoH mandated processes are nonetheless still going to become infected, we are in for multiple ongoing lockdowns.

Arguably a more likely explanation is transmission from the arrival to the cleaner via other working at the site ..

or alternatively we had community transmission all along. From the time 30,000 Chinese students came back after the Chinese New Year. It slipped under the radar because 80% of cases are asymptomatic.

It took the WHO until second week of April to admit to how deadly the airbourne particles transmission is.
Even asymptomatic carriers can be quite toxic. Therefore why in the world has no media person put forward the question: " Dr Bloomfield-Could it be entirely likely that the maintenance man acquired the Covid from the American woman by simply passing her in the hallway? And do all Hotel Staff wear full PPD equipment at all times, and by that I mean not only masks but critically important as well face shields so a 1/10,000 particle does not fall in an eye?"
To date not one bugger has asked this simple question. And without that level of protection at Hotels and the border we are all just kidding ourselves that more outbreaks wont happen as it appears 1% of al travelors coming into the country carry the disease.

It took the WHO until second week of April to admit to how deadly the airbourne particles transmission is.
Even asymptomatic carriers can be quite toxic. Therefore why in the world has no media person put forward the question: " Dr Bloomfield-Could it be entirely likely that the maintenance man acquired the Covid from the American woman by simply passing her in the hallway? And do all Hotel Staff wear full PPD equipment at all times, and by that I mean not only masks but critically important as well face shields so a 1/10,000 particle does not fall in an eye?"
To date not one bugger has asked this simple question. And without that level of protection at Hotels and the border we are all just kidding ourselves that more outbreaks wont happen as it appears 1% of al travelors coming into the country carry the disease.

I wonder if he was maintaining the air conditioning filters?

We need to reduce the number of people coming back, so it can be better and safer managed in proper quarantine facilities IMO. The fact that isolation hotels haven't been renamed as 'quarantine stations' IMO indicates that they aren't going to be as good as a proper quarantine facility. They need to be drip fed into NZ IMO. The fact that we are no longer covid free and in lockdowns, will hopefully mean that some people thinking of returning will change their minds or delay, or stay put.

I had a thought. Most ships take a while to get here. Why don't we test the crew when they embark from whichever is the last port before arriving in NZ? That we will we know what we are dealing with by the time they arrive.