A senior staffer at Middlemore Hospital last night apologised to an elderly patient for how a patient that was put in a general ward and later tested positive for Covid-19 was handled.
The patient arrived at the South Auckland hospital at 5pm on Saturday evening, with atypical coronavirus symptoms.
He tested positive on Sunday and was immediately moved to the respiratory ward dedicated to Covid patients, a Counties Manukau Health spokesperson said on Monday.
However, the 91-year-old patient, who did not want to be named, said the man was coughing and sneezing when he was admitted into a room shared with three other patients at the Edmund Hillary Block.
The man was tested around 10.30am according to the elderly patient, and then brought back to the room and left for about five hours before being moved by nurses in full personal protective equipment (PPE) gear.
"A senior staffer came and spoke with me last night and he apologised on behalf of the hospital. We had a very direct conversation, it wasn't rude but very direct, and he recognised there was a major problem with how it was handled," the patient said.
The three patients who have been quarantined because of the incident were last night moved into separate rooms, according to the man.
The elderly patient said he was now in a single-bed room, and was still waiting to be tested.
"We've been told that they were leaving it for a couple of days before getting us tested due to the nature of the Delta strain of the virus, which we were told doesn't show up immediately," he said.
As a result of what happened, the man says his only contact with the outside world is now through his mobile phone and the television in his room.
All patients and staff working in two affected wards are also being regarded as close contacts of the patient with Covid-19.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) was undertaking a case investigation to identify and isolate close contacts.
"All patients and staff working in the two affected wards between 6.30am and 4.30pm on Sunday, September 5 are currently being classed as close contacts until we have done further investigations," Counties Manukau Health added.
The wards at the hospital in Ōtāhuhu have been closed to any new admissions.
Patients were being cared for as "Covid-exposed" by staff using PPE.
The district health board said staff routinely wore surgical masks and full PPE where required, but all staff in the two wards were stood down.
Those staff would now work with occupational health and ARPHS regarding risk and actions.
All emergency staff were routinely required to wear N95 masks and goggles and, as such, were being regarded now as casual contacts, not close contacts.
"Occupational Health is working with these staff and no one has been stood down," Counties Manukau Health added.
Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Monday that the Middlemore Hospital patient was not yet linked to any other cases, though everyone in his 10-person household was being interviewed.
But Bloomfield said he was confident there would be a link.
The man presented at Middlemore with symptoms that were not Covid-19 symptoms, and was then admitted to the "appropriate place" for those symptoms, Bloomfield said.
Bloomfield said he was not aware if hospital staff who interacted with the patient were wearing N95 masks.
The man would have ideally been isolated from other patients on the ward the following day, when he was suspected of having Covid-19, Bloomfield added.