October 7 – Waikato DHB provided rapid testing for 102 staff yesterday following confirmation that an individual who visited the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department on Friday night had later tested positive for COVID-19.
They were screened on entry, but as they were not symptomatic and the visit was prior to any cases or locations of interest being identified in the Waikato region, this person was streamed to the children’s ED area. They were at the ED area for around three hours from late Friday night (1 October) to early Saturday morning (2 October).
More than 90% of tests have now been resulted and all are negative. The remaining few results are expected today and relate to staff who visited the ED during the course of their shift and are considered casual contacts.
Those requiring a test included 50 staff who were working at the ED during the case visit. All returned negative results by yesterday afternoon, with many able to be cleared to resume work for the afternoon and evening shifts.
Six staff have been identified as close contacts and although all have returned negative tests, they will continue to isolate for the full 14 days from the time of contact, and undertake a further test on day 12.
Executive Director of Hospital and Community Services, Chris Lowry, said staff and visitors to the ED at the time had all followed infection prevention and control protocols appropriate to Alert Level 2, but the extra precaution for those six staff was required in response to the Delta variant.
Ms Lowry said the response yesterday from staff across the hospital had been outstanding.
“People came forward immediately to be tested and our laboratory staff were able to return the majority of results by early yesterday afternoon, enabling many staff to return to shifts on the same day. We had also asked for people to help cover shifts while affected staff were stood down and the willingness of staff to put their hands up to help was greatly appreciated.”
The case was in the ED reception area only briefly, and this has now been confirmed as a location of interest, due to its openness to the public. Public Health staff confirmed one patient present at the ED was considered a close contact and they are now isolating.