Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Waitakere Hospital patient placed in same room as Covid positive case

A second situation has emerged where a sick patient was put in the same room as a Covid-19 positive person – this time at Waitākere Hospital.

However, Waitematā DHB insists there was no exposure and no transmission of the virus in the West Auckland case.

A 67-year-old Auckland man was told to self-isolate and get tested after he spent a night in the emergency department in Waitākere Hospital with a man who had Covid on August 19 – just a few days after the country went into a snap lockdown.

The West Auckland man, who has several underlying health issues including emphysema, arrived just after 8pm and was monitored overnight due to having swollen feet.

But it wasn’t until the older man was discharged about 5am the next morning that a nurse told him the man who had been in the bed in the same room had Covid.

The man said it came as quite a shock. He was given no further information and continued on to the pharmacy to get his prescription.

He doesn’t recall what time the Covid patient was moved out of the area, but estimated it was between midnight and 4am.

There were curtains separating them so the older man never saw the younger man.

“It wasn’t until I left that they gave me the news. That’s what took me back,” he said.

“It was a comment, ‘Oh by the way, do you know the guy over there – he’s gone now, but do you know he had Covid’. I was like, oh man.”

The Herald previously reported a young man in his 20s tested positive to Covid at Waitākere Hospital and Government officials were alerted at 2am on August 20.

The man’s diagnosis resulted in North Shore Hospital’s emergency department and short-stay surgical unit being closed because he had earlier been receiving treatment for an unrelated condition at North Shore Hospital.

The older man’s brother told the Herald he was in utter disbelief that a Covid patient would be put in a room with someone who already had health conditions and who could die from it. His brother is also on medication for bipolar disorder.

Once back home, the man received a call from the public health service a few days later reiterating that he was a close contact and needed to self-isolate for 14 days and be tested for Covid. All the man’s tests were negative.

The man’s brother told the Herald they were absolutely shocked that this could happen, especially to someone like his brother whose lungs are already severely damaged.

The family contacted the Herald after reading about the case at Middlemore Hospital where patients had been sharing a ward with someone with Covid and were now questioning how many other times it had happened.

It’s understood the positive case shared a room with three others, including a 91-year-old man at Middlemore Hospital’s Edmund Hillary Block surgical ward.

Patients and staff on two affected Middlemore wards are now being tested and are considered close contacts.

In a statement this evening, a Waitematā District Health Board spokesman said at any given time, “it is possible we will have Covid-positive patients entering our emergency departments”.

Patients who were under suspicion for Covid were placed on a “separate pathway” to those who were not considered to be potentially infected.

“This patient was appropriately streamed, screened and identified on a Covid pathway and was not placed in an area shared by patients who are not at potential risk of having Covid.

“While a lab result was pending, the patient was placed in a Covid-streamed six-bedded area. There was only one other patient in the area and they were well-separated by closed curtains and kept two bed spaces apart.

“At no stage did the two come within close contact of each other. The expectation is that patients wear surgical masks at all times while they are in this stream.

“The other patient was wearing a surgical mask at all times, with dividing curtains drawn between cubicles. The other patient was not considered a close contact of the Covid-positive patient.”

All staff who were treating the patient were dressed in appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

“However, there was a potential PPE breach by the Covid-positive patient removing his mask and this led the DHB to check whether there was any possibility of exposure, out of an abundance of caution.”

Subsequent testing showed there was no transmission as a result of this event.

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