A Covid-infected MIQ security guard told his employer he was having regualar tests – but had not had one since November, the Government has revealed.
Covid Recovery Minister Chris Hipkins said the man, known as Case B, was supplying information to their employer that they were being regularly tested – though that does not appear to be case.
He said the investigation was ongoing, but “it does appear some of the information provided by the individual to the employer doesn’t match up with the (employer’s) record of tests “.
The infected Grand Millennium security guard known as Case B’s casual and close contacts had all tested negative except for Case C, a fellow guard.
Individuals were reminded to get tested via text message, and employers were also required to make sure their staff were being regularly tested.
He said the police were called to help get information about Case B’s locations of interest.
A fee of $300 or a fine of $1000 were the penalties for non-compliance, but Hipkins said an investigation was still ongoing into Case B.
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said Case B’s employer had kept their own records and was also using the border worker testing register.
Two new cases in MIQ
There are two new Covid cases to report today, both in managed isolation.
They are travellers from India and Pakistan.
There are no new community cases today,Bloomfield said.
The seven-day rolling average of border cases is now eight.
He said the total number of active cases today is 101.
Bloomfield said 760,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine can be stored in freezers in Auckland, which currently has 315,000 doses. There are two other freezers in Christchurch.
He said Medsafe had approved its storage at -20C for two weeks, which was more practical in getting the vaccine to more remote areas.
Bloomfield said he was confident with the vaccine roll-out. A new clinic was opening today at Waitakere Hospital in Henderson, and a site has also opened in the CBD in Elliott St. A marae-based clinic also opened last week.
Vaccination at those centres so far were by invitation only.
He said there were new functions on the NZ Covid Tracer app, including a new “swirl” symbol for when people use the app every day for 14 days. Bloomfield was currently on13 days, he said. Hipkins said he was on 11 days.
135,000 vaccine doses administered
Hipkins said 135,585 doses had been administered, including 7695 in the last 24 hours.
He said 43 per cent have been delivered in Auckland, 19 per cent of whom are Māori or Pasifika.
Up until the end of June, more than 1 million additional doses will be delivered, he said.
This was based on discussions with DHBs on what they can deliver. Weekly updates against the forecast numbers will be provided each Wednesday.
The numbers show “we’re on track” to start group three – vulnerable people and those with underlying medical conditions – on time.
Hipkins said 88.5 per cent of MIQ workers have been vaccinated as of last night; 513 MIQ workers are still to get their first jab.
A breakdown will be provided of border workers by region, he said.
He signed an order last night to make it mandatory for employers to use the border worker testing register from April 27.
Currently employees had a legal obligation to get tested, and for employers to keep a record of those tests, but only about 60 per cent of the employers have been using the register so far.
A mandatory register would make it easier to keep track of who has been tested. The register notified workers about their upcoming tests, and employers about their employees’ tests, Hipkins said.
Additional groups would also be captured with the new order, he said, and it also increased the frequency of how often certain border workers would need to be tested.
All MIQ workers will need to be tested weekly.
Hipkins said more returnees from countries other than Australia were expected after the transtasman bubble was announced. He said the suspension of travel from India also freed up more MIQ rooms.
“There are more rooms available. There are a good spread of rooms available over the next few months.”
The last vaccine update, from a week ago, showed almost 20,000 people had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, while 71,000 had had one jab.
It also emerged today that the Grand Millennium security guard – known as Case B – who tested positive last week, and who hadn’t been tested before then since November 20, even though he is meant to be tested fortnightly.
The Government has been on the back foot over its reluctance to release vaccination targets since the release of a vague roll-out plan a month ago.
The status of the roll-out is being increasingly questioned, with the Herald revealing this morning that the Ministry of Health is urgently seeking 18 “crucial” positions for the roll-out.
And this morning the head of Counties Manukau DHB head said Auckland only has half the number of Covid-19 vaccinators it needs for the roll-out, while the Canterbury DHB reported an oversupply.
It also remains unclear how many border workers are still unvaccinated, though this morning MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain said 89 per cent of MIQ staff had had at least one jab of the Pfizer vaccine.
She said there were inconsistencies across the whole recording system for border worker testing.
Case B may have been tested more recently than November – but if so, it wasn’t in the system.
Tremain also conceded she did not know how many workers have missed the tests they are legally required to have.
Nor did she know how many of the 300 private MIQ companies were not using the government’s border testing register – which Hipkins wants to make mandatory.
The Herald has also learned that police were called in to track where Case B had spent money to find out locations of interest, which took several days to be made public.
Tremain said that Case C – also a security guard at the Grand Millennium – had been tested fortnightly, though she couldn’t say when he was last tested before his positive test.
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