Thursday, December 9

Apartment Managers Concerned About Isolating Covid Cases

Auckland residents could be unknowingly sharing apartment buildings with isolated cases of Covid-19, and building managers and corporate corporations want better communication from health authorities to keep their tenants safe.

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File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Currently, there are more than 2000 people with Covid-19 isolated at home, and more than half of them are still waiting to know if they will be transferred to quarantine.

Frontline workers are concerned that some are in homes that are unsuitable for self-isolation, and that concern is shared by Auckland City Center Resident Group Vice President Adam Parkinson.

He said apartment buildings have not been listed as places of interest in recent weeks and authorities failed to alert some building managers when Covid cases are isolated in their apartments.

That was despite the Health Ministry saying it had notified several apartment buildings “through building managers and / or corporations, during the Covid-19 outbreaks.”

Auckland city center residents group has met with their local MPs and the community board, seeking further communication and guidance from authorities to help manage risk.

“Obviously we don’t want to go around identifying residents and saying that that person is sick and hanging a sign around their neck … but we desperately and urgently need some other solutions and strategies to counter this information gap,” he said.

When a resident tested positive for Covid-19 in a central Auckland apartment run by Phil Porteous in September, he said he was left with more questions than answers.

His One Place company manages 36 complexes, townhouses and apartment buildings across the city ranging from 12 to 250 units.

The Health Ministry alerted him to the case and gave him a letter to deliver to all the other residents, but said it never told him which department was affected, if the person had been transferred to MIQ or when they had recovered.

“During that time, we started getting calls from residents asking us why we are not a place of interest, if the property is safe to show people on tours, for people looking to move into the property and if we have to do it. isolate? “

“It was a pretty tough situation where you don’t have answers for a group of residents or cohort who are a little high in terms of anxiety and wondering if it will spread throughout the entire building.”

Aerosol chemist Joel Rindelaub said that Covid cases in high-density apartments and homes pose an increased risk of transmission.

He said incidents at MIQ hotels had shown that the virus could spread through ventilation systems, even if the infected person remained confined to their room.

“Anytime you gather a lot of people in one area, you have to make sure you have the cleanest air possible,” he said.

“If I was staying in an apartment building, I would like to know if there are Covid cases near me, that’s for sure.”

Phil Porteous said it would be good for the Health Ministry to preemptively conduct a risk assessment for multi-level apartment buildings, to establish whether it would be safe for people to isolate themselves there.

In the meantime, he said it was important for each multi-home complex to have a plan for managing Covid.

“As it is, if you don’t have Covid in your apartment, you will soon have it.”

The Health Ministry said it was assessed on a case-by-case basis whether a person living in an apartment complex was transferred to MIQ to complete their isolation.

“A medical health officer conducts a public health risk assessment that considers needs, disability supports, welfare and social needs, safety and compliance.”

“People living in apartments can safely isolate themselves without risk to other residents. Your community health team reviews their health daily and makes sure they have essential supplies so they don’t have to leave their property.”

“If a public health unit determines that it is possible to contact those who may have had contact with the Covid-19 case on a site, then it is not necessary to include it as a Location of interest in the Ministry of Health website.”

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