Covid-19 scare: Hamilton District Court lockdown lifts, isolation worker tests negative

A worker at a managed isolation facility who sparked a lockdown at Hamilton District Court has tested negative for Covid-19.

The lockdown was triggered shortly before 10am and was lifted around 11.20am, when members of the public were allowed out again. The court then closed for the rest of the day.

People who were inside have been told they are only casual contacts so don’t have to do any mandatory quarantine at home.

A source has told the Herald that the lockdown was triggered because a woman who worked at a managed isolation facility had turned up at court and told a staff member she had a runny nose and was awaiting the result of a Covid-19 test.

The woman’s employer told the Herald that she was tested as part of routine Covid-19 swabbing for isolation and border workers.

“The person did not have Covid symptoms she had her routine test done that all MIF workers must have every 14 days. There is no requirement for any of them to self isolate at all after having the test done. At no time did she state that she had Covid symptoms,” said woman’s boss, who the Herald agreed not to name.

The woman was since returned a negative test, the employer says.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the negative result this afternoon.

The Ministry also said in a statement: “The precautionary action to lockdown the court was taken by local agencies after some initial reports that the person had symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

“The Ministry of Health acknowledges our border workers willingness to undergo regular Covid-19 tests that are helping keep all New Zealanders safe from Covid-19. These people do not need to stay home – unless they develop symptoms.”

During the lockdown, about 40 to 50 people were stuck in the court.

Maeve Neilson, the Ministry of Justice’s acting Deputy Secretary Corporate & Digital Services, said it was following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines to protect the health and safety of “all court participants and staff. We have also developed a protocol to deal with anyone displaying symptoms of or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our buildings.

“As a precautionary measure, the Hamilton District Court was closed to the public due to a member of the public entering the court building who had been tested for Covid-19.

“Court participants have now left the court after supplying contact tracing information. The court building will remain closed for the rest of the day while areas are sanitised appropriately in line with Ministry of Health guidance.”

Neilson urged anyone not feeling well not to come to the court house. Those feeling unwell have been told to contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested. Contact 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) if you cannot enter the courthouse or are not sure whether to attend.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the ministry had been advised that the Hamilton District Court was placed into temporary lockdown.

“This was a precautionary measure after a person who was tested for Covid-19 yesterday as part of our routine testing for border workers visited the court this morning, said a spokesperson,” it said in a statement.

“The risk to the public was deemed to be low. An update would be provided later today.”

The Herald source believed the woman had appeared in the registrar’s court this morning.

One Hamilton woman, stuck outside during the lockdown, said she was baffled to see the courthouse front doors shut in front of her.

She went to court with her son who was about 10 metres ahead of her. He had walked inside and through security when she heard him say “Mum, you can’t come in”.

“I looked at him and said ‘why?’ And then two security staff said the building was in lockdown.”

Six cases in managed isolation

Six new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation were announced yesterday – including two from the United Kingdom where a new strain of the virus is spreading rapidly.

There are no new cases in the community.

Of the new border cases:|

•One arrived on January 2 from the United Kingdom via Qatar and Australia. This person tested positive on day 1 of routine testing and is in the Auckland quarantine facility.
•One case arrived on December 31 from the United States. This person tested positive during routine testing around day 3 and is in a Christchurch quarantine facility.
• One case arrived on December 29 from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive at day 6. This person is in the Auckland quarantine facility.
•One case arrived on December 27 from Switzerland via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive at day six. This person is in the Auckland quarantine facility.
•One case arrived on December 22 from South Africa via Qatar.
• One case arrived on December 19 from India via the United Arab Emirates. This person was a close contact of a confirmed case and tested positive at day 15. They are in the Auckland quarantine facility.

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