National | Airport

Government says Covid-19 case at border is low risk

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reassured the public the new Covid-19 case of a border worker at Auckland Airport will not affect the Trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins spoke to the AM Show this morning and was feeling positive because it appeared the border picked up the virus from someone entering the country on April 10.

He said, "It means we're in this early and should be able to contact-trace our way out of it and contain the case."

Border worker

The border worker who tested positive for Covid-19 works as a cleaner at Auckland International Airport, cleaning planes that have flown internationally from countries where the virus is widespread.

They had been tested weekly as part of routine surveillance and after being tested on Monday at their workplace, that test came back as positive on Tuesday. Their previous tests were all negative.

The border worker has been isolating at home for interviews with health officials and they are now being moved to the Auckland quarantine hotel.

Five members of their household have been tested and have returned negative results.

So far, 16 close contacts of the border worker have been identified. But the number will probably change as further scoping of the border worker's movements identifies other people they have been in close contact with.

Additional pop-up testing has been set up at Auckland Airport – this is in addition to the testing site already running at the airport.

Locations of interest

Three locations of interest in connection to the positive case have been identified. Further locations of interest where people may have been at the same time as the border worker will be shared on the Minister of Health website as they are available.

So far, locations of interest identified are:

  • Westfield St Luke's Food Court (Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 12:15pm to 2:30pm)
  • Bunnings New Lynn (Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 2:30pm to 3:50pm)
  • Movenpick Dominion Road (Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 5:15pm to 7:20pm)

People who were at these places, during the times the border worker was there, are considered casual contacts. They are advised to monitor their health and be aware of any symptoms of Covid-19.

However, the ministry says the risk to the public appears to be low.

Vaccine 95% effective

The border worker who caught the Covid-19 was fully vaccinated,  receiving two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in February and March.

The ministry says the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective but, at 95% effectiveness, a small number may not be protected. And breakthrough infections happen with all vaccines.

As many New Zealanders as possible are urged to take up the offer to receive the vaccine. 

The border worker has done all the right things – such as being regularly tested at their workplace, using the NZ Covid-19 Tracer app, with Bluetooth turned on.

The ministry expresses thanks to all the people working at the borders, and their thoughts are with the infected border worker as they recover from Covid-19.