3rd Covid-19 case found in NZ quarantine hotel

Wellington, April 12 (IANS) A worker for a managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, has tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the third consecutive case at the same premised, the Health Ministry announced on Monday.

A security guard for the hotel tested positive last week after one cleaner was found have contracted the virus on March 21, reports Xinhua news agency.

The three cases detected in the Grand Millennium hotel, the regulation of which is slammed by local epidemiologists as “highly problematic”, are believed not vaccinated.

Although the New Zealand government reiterated the risk for community transmission remained very low, Prime Minister Ardern said earlier that all frontline border workers would be moved into “low risk” roles from Monday if they refuse to get vaccinated.

According to the government, the vaccination rate among the frontline workers is 79 per cent since the vaccination drive started in February but it is still not mandatory to MIQ workers.

That was “not good enough”, said Ardern. “Everyone in MIQ has to be vaccinated.”

If frontline workers did not get vaccinated they would be swapped to other positions, she added.

According to the figures released by the Ministry of Health, 80 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in MIQ in the past four weeks were people travelling from India.

The New Zealand government therefore announced a temporary ban on arrivals from India on April 8.

The suspension of arrivals from India took effect at 4 p.m. on April 11 till April 28.

Ardern warned the government would ban entrants from any other high-risk countries.

The uncertainty of New Zealand MIQ Covid-19 control also haunted the long-waited quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia, which is scheduled to start on April 19.

New Zealand has so reported 2,583 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.