COVID-19 in “managed isolation and quarantine facility” staff
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Canterbury Public Health Alert, 5 November 2020

COVID-19 in “managed isolation and quarantine facility” staff

This Alert is to provide Canterbury health professionals with a brief overview of the public health investigation and management of the two recent COVID-19 cases in staff at the Sudima Airport Hotel.

The “international mariners” group, comprising 235 Russian and Ukranian fishing crew, are in quarantine at the Airport Sudima Hotel. To date there have been 31 cases of COVID-19 amongst the group.

All staff at managed isolation and quarantine hotels have weekly tests for COVID-19, and both our recent staff cases tested negative on Thursday 29th October.

Our first staff case subsequently developed very mild symptoms and sought a test on Sunday 1st November, which returned a positive result on Monday 2nd. That case is in isolation at home with their one household contact, a Cashmere High student, who is asymptomatic and tested negative on Monday. There is nothing to suggest that others at the school have been exposed to the virus.

Additional staff testing was undertaken at the Sudima on Monday in light of the first positive result, and that identified the second staff case, who has been asymptomatic throughout, and who is now in isolation at a different quarantine hotel. All 193 staff at the Sudima have been re-tested this week, and with almost all results available there have been no further positive results.

The seventeen identified close contacts of our two cases are in quarantine, either at home or in a managed facility. All have been tested, with negative results.

The cases’ visits to the Countdown supermarket and Chemist Warehouse have been investigated, and did not involve close contact with any other people.

These two cases are concerning, and there is a careful and ongoing multidisciplinary investigation to identify the source of their infection. Its main finding so far has been that infection control within the facility has been rigorous. Our team has a working hypothesis about a specific potential exposure event, which genome sequencing for the second case will help to confirm or rule out.

We are very grateful that our first case was pro-active in getting tested. Both cases have gone to great lengths to assist our investigation. The fact that we have no evidence at this stage of further spread of COVID-19 in the community is largely thanks to them. Nevertheless, this is a difficult time for all the facility staff, and we are working with our CDHB colleagues to support them.

Our public health team is continuing to work with MBIE and the mariners’ employers to plan the safe release of the mariners group.

We hope that this information will help you to deal with any concerns your patients may have. COVID-19 testing for patients presenting with respiratory illness remains an important cornerstone of New Zealand’s COVID-19 strategy. The latest Ministry of Health testing advice is available on their website.



Community and Public Health
A Division of the Canterbury District Health Board
310 Manchester Street Christchurch
Phone: +64 3 364 1777
Canterbury Public Health Alert, 5 November 2020