A new positive Covid case found at Waitakere Hospital leads to an emergency department closure at North Shore Hospital, where the young man had received unrelated treatment recently.

North Shore Hospital’s emergency department and short stay surgical unit have been shut down after a patient treated there earlier has tested positive for Covid-19.

The patient, a young man, is now being treated at Waitakere Hospital.

He had been admitted earlier to North Shore Hospital for an unrelated condition prior to the current lockdown.

Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verall told Morning Report the hospital was acting pre-emptively on the possibility that the young man may have been infectious at North Shore hospital before being transferred. That would not become clear until he was able to be interviewed, she said.

North Shore Hospital is diverting new patients elsewhere.

There are now 22 confirmed community cases in Auckland. NZ Post announced on Friday morning that a worker at its Highbrook, East Tamaki, centre had tested positive and the facility had been through a deep clean. Students at Northcote College and Lynfield College have also tested positive, although it is not known which of these cases might have been part of the 21 previously announced yesterday.

Verrall said case numbers, contact tracing and testing will be looked at as Cabinet decides today on any changes to the nationwide lockdown.

Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula have already been warned they’ll probably be at Level 4 for at least seven days while the rest of the country was initially locked down for three.

“I think there are some overarching things we can say,” Verall said.

“Since going into lockdown [we] have confirmed that this is the Delta variant.

“And we just need to look across the Tasman to see the situation we don’t want to be in, which is what’s happened in New South Wales where they haven’t gone hard and early and as a result have had a prolonged outbreak that’s claimed a lot of lives.”

The decision on moving areas outside Auckland and Coromandel out of Level 4 would take into account how much testing is occurring in other parts of the country, and whether contacts are identified in the South Island.

“So it really depends a bit on how much information we can have and a degree of confidence that there aren’t undiscovered cases there.”

Asked if the outbreak of Delta strain is more serious because of New Zealand’s low vaccination rates, she said after initial scare supply of the vaccine the campaign had ramped up.

“We have had to make decisions about allocation of scarce supply in the beginning of the vaccination campaign. But now that we have much more abundant supply we’ve really ramped up how that’s being delivered.”

“We have secured the fastest and most effective vaccine with the best safety profile that we can and once we’ve had stocks we’ve delivered it incredibly efficiently.

Verrall said before lockdown vaccination was going very quickly, and had to pivot during lockdown conditions, but the government was aiming to get the numbers back on track.

A Ministry of Health statement on Friday morning said, given the incubation period of the virus, the Waitemata DHB had assumed the person could have been infectious during the admission to North Shore Hospital.

“The DHB has taken immediate action to close the North Shore Hospital Emergency Department and Short Stay Surgical Unit to new admissions. Diversions to other hospital EDs are in place as the DHB this morning contacts staff and patients who may have been exposed to Covid.

“Affected staff will be stood down and advised to follow public health advice and potentially exposed current patients will be notified and isolated as well as tested in the hospital. Patients already discharged will be followed-up by public health officials.

The affected parts of the hospital will be deep cleaned today and then reopened as soon as it is safe to do so. The DHB will be working today to confirm the number of staff and patients affected.”

This story first appeared on RNZ and is republished with permission

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