Four and a half weeks after a woman made contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, she was finally contacted by the Ministry of Health’s search team.
By Charlotte Cook from rnz.co.nz
He took a regional flight on March 17 and 10 days later developed symptoms of the respiratory virus.
The woman, whom the RNZ agreed not to be named, said it was not like she had ever felt before.
“My lungs started burning, I didn’t get normal flu symptoms, I experienced that a little later, but only my lungs were never affected in that way.
“Burning then started to ache with coughing and felt like a burden on my chest that every day I was exposed to a virus and extra weight was put in there, it was just a little more difficult to breathe,” he said.
When he has a fever, he calls Healthline but is refused testing because he has no contact with a confirmed case and the search team does not make contact to suggest otherwise.
“I tried again a second time and told them that I was on a regional flight with international people and was refused.”
He became so ill that he thought of going to the hospital, but instead searched through old media releases and found a flight from March 17 listed as one that had confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The man flew from Barcelona before making a regional trip.
He found a story in which the district Health Board Health Officers said that they would contact close contacts from international flights.
“I didn’t really take it at the time, they would only contact international flight tracking.
“And they didn’t even bother calling the regional flight member he called the same day. And I think that’s very bad.”
At this stage it has been more than two weeks since he was on the flight and there is still no contact from the Ministry of Health or the tracking team.
He can be tested after proving he is on a flight with a confirmed case.
The results came back negative, but he was told there were many false negatives, so he was a possible Covid-19 case.
The woman was asked to come back and be tested again a week later, but when she did so the symptoms disappeared and she was refused.
During this time he was allowed into the medical center, although he protested because he was still showing symptoms of Covid-19.
Staff at the center said negative test results meant he could enter.
Four and a half weeks after the regional flight where he made contact with a man with Covid-19, the Ministry of Health’s contact tracking team called him.
“[They] told me that I had contact with Covid sufferers on March 17.
“This is more than a month later and advised me to go and get tested and call the health channel.
“I think it’s a bit late now.
“I called the health line obediently, as I was told and they said it was too late.”
He said the whole situation “smelled of incompetence”.
“I must admit, my reaction was to just laugh at the tracing officer, not in an evil way, but I just laughed.
“I can’t believe it was four and a half weeks later, you must be kidding.”
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it was difficult to comment on specific cases.
“What we can say is our case definition for contacts who track people on an airplane are those who sit in two seats in all directions.
“Others on the flight will be considered normal contact,” the statement said.
“We acknowledge that it is too late for him to be tested after the contact tracing team contacts him, passengers will be able to identify whether there are close contacts that are becoming unhealthy and they can be tested.”
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