Update: The health ministry announced on Saturday 1 pm that a fifth nurse from Waitakere was being regarded as a ‘probable’ Covid-19 case after being in self-isolation. Another person connected to someone at the hospital is a new confirmed case, bringing the hospital-linked cases to 12.

The Waitakere Hospital nurse seriously ill in North Shore Hospital from Covid-19 is the fourth to be infected in controversial circumstances when dealing with patients from the St Margaret’s rest home cluster.

Newsroom understands the nurse is just 26 years-old but is seriously unwell, with low oxygen in her blood, meaning she is hypoxic and is on oxygen. She is not in ICU at this stage.

She appears to have had been doubly at risk – personally treating the rest home positive cases plus then being in close contact with one of the initial three who were diagnosed last week.

She becomes the fourth Waitakere Hospital nurse to test positive in less than two weeks.

The nurse is part of a group over-represented in high risk occupations and is more likely to be exposed to and infected by the virus.

Three nurses at the Waitemata DHB hospital were last week diagnosed with the virus, with two close contacts, after six Covid-positive residents from the CHT St Margaret’s Hospital and Rest Home in Te Atatu were moved to Waitakere Hospital in mid-April. The four nurses’ positive tests were between April 27 and May 7.

Initially, 57 staff were stood down and 37 still remain at home to isolate.

The Covid-positive nurses had been working in Muriwai Wing A ward, which housed six infected patients from St Margaret’s rest home, three of whom have since died.

Newsroom revealed yesterday that hospital staff had been working between the Covid-positive ward and other wards across the hospital, against requests from the NZ Nurses Organisation that they maintain ward ‘bubbles’.

In response to staff fears, Waitakere Hospital instituted ward ‘bubbles’ on Monday.

The hospital is under scrutiny over 10 cases of Covid-19 and its policy of rostering nurses to work in both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 areas.

A Major Incident Review looking into its practices over the infections was due to have its draft report completed today, but Newsroom has been told it won’t be released until next week.

At today’s government briefing, the Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay, said of the latest, serious, case:  The nurse had been looking after St Margaret’s rest home patients at Waitakere Hospital and was amongst those close contacts of another positive case announced last week.”

*Made with the support of NZ On Air*

Melanie Reid is Newsroom's lead investigations editor.

Leave a comment