The student at the centre of the latest Covid-19 community outbreak has rebuked government officials' handling of her case and says wrong information released publicly led to her being bullied online.
This includes suggestions that she was made to work at the A-Z Collections store in Auckland's High St by her employer despite phoning in sick.
In a statement issued by her employer's lawyer, the woman said: "On the evening of the 9th [November] | had a sore throat, but I did not think much of it. I contacted
my GP on the 10th over the phone as I thought I may have a cold.
"I did not think I met the symptoms of coronavirus but my GP recommended that I get a test just to be sure. On the 11th my sore throat had gone and I did not feel any discomfort, so I went to work.
"I wore a mask just to be safe. My employer has instructed us to wear a mask
whenever possible. It is not unusual for us to wear masks at work, so my manager,
co-workers, and customers thought nothing of it. I did not think there was any chance
that I had coronavirus.
"I did not tell my boss or manager of the above and did not request leave at any time. |
did not think it was a big deal.
"On the morning of the 12th I learned I tested positive and was very shocked and upset."
The woman – who is now Case D in the Defence Force cluster – said in the statement that health officials who interviewed her had made "many errors in recording my previous whereabouts, actions, and contacts".
"It was reported in the news that I was still asked to go to work by my boss after I became sick – this is false, and I was very upset to hear this.
"The staff made many errors in recording my previous whereabouts, actions, and contacts," she said.
She had subsequently suffered "incredibly hurtful cyberbullying comments online".
Covid Recovery Minister Chris Hipkins told media yesterday that the woman had sought to phone in sick but after a conversation with her employer she came into work and wore a mask.
This was after she had been tested for Covid but had yet to be told she was infected.
The student's first language is Mandarin and she said a translator was not present when she first spoke to health officials about her movements and activities.
She said she repeatedly contacted government officials "begging them" to correct the information "because I knew the hate and attacks myself and my boss and our families would receive," her statement said.
"Today, the 13th of November, after having to ask many times, the Government have finally arranged a Chinese translation service for me to communicate with the tracing team.
"Once they speak to me again, without the language barrier, I hope that they can restore the truth and the media can report the true story."
The student's employers, husband and wife Bing Wang and Mei Chen, also issued a statement via their lawyer, Focus Law.
They reiterated that the employee had never told them she was sick.
"Both the employers and the employee are clear: Before the employee was diagnosed on 12 November 2020, the employer was not told by the employee or by anyone else that she was feeling unwell. She did not call in sick or ask for sick leave," the statement read.
Bing Wang said they were "shocked" at suggestions they required the staff member to work while sick.
"We contacted our employee, and she was even more shocked than we were."
The owners said the first time they knew she had been sick was when they were told yesterday that she had tested positive for Covid-19.
"We were not told by her or by anyone else that she was feeling unwell. She did not call in sick or ask for sick leave. If we knew she was feeling unwell, we would not have asked her to come in."
Student is now fourth case in Defence Force cluster
Hipkins said this afternoon that the student has been genomically linked to the Defence worker who was infected at a quarantine hotel.
Two NZDF workers tested positive for the virus this month. One is a worker at Auckland's Jet Park quarantine facility. A third then tested positive in Wellington yesterday.
Auckland central streets were deserted this morning.
Photos taken on Queen St show people have taken Ministry of Health advice, with only a small number of workers making the trip this morning into the CBD. Britomart train station also saw a marked reduction in commuters.
However there were large queues at a testing station at the Ellen Melville Centre on Freyberg Place, just around the corner from the workplace of a new community case.
There was also a steady stream of cars at a drive-through testing centre on Quay St.