Kiwis trapped in a Rotorua quarantine hotel with our latest Covid-19 case say guests were put at risk by "appalling" conditions when being transported to the facility.
Guests at the Ibis Hotel in Rotorua were placed in lockdown yesterday and told not to leave their rooms only to discover via the media of the coronavirus case, which is yet to be counted in the official tally.
The group all had their first Covid-19 test on Tuesday, the third day of the Government managed isolation since being spirited from Auckland International Airport to the central North Island on a cramped bus.
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters yesterday he was confident the Rotorua facility was being safely managed to prevent the spread of the virus.
"It doesn't raise any concerns with me about the way they were transported," he said because "very strict protocols were followed".
However, one man in quarantine at the Ibis said the case wasn't a surprise as the buses were "full to max capacity" .
He claims not all of the passengers were wearing masks and they were not socially distanced.
Another man, who had returned home to New Zealand from Europe, said it was only a matter of time before there were more confirmed cases at the hotel because they had been "loaded like cattle into the bus".
Another woman at the hotel said they still had not been given any information about the confirmed case and she felt strict protocols had not been followed.
"Being on that bus was the highest chance I've had in a long time of catching it [Covid-19]."
UK-based lawyer Nick Soper, who flew into Auckland late Saturday afternoon ahead of his father's funeral in Southland next month, says the conditions on the bus were a far cry from the strict measures enforced on his international flights.
"Qatar Airways, for example, had an empty seat between each person. Staff were in full body suits over their head, wearing eye wear, masks and gloves on."
After taking care to keep infection free over his 40-odd hours of flying, donning a mask and gloves, it was alarming to be seated in a full bus elbow-to-elbow with travellers not wearing PPE.
"I've been in lockdown in London since March 18 and I hadn't been in that close proximity to people since then.
"I was thinking, 'This is appalling', but I'd like to think that my risk of catching Covid-19 was very low because of the PPE I was wearing."
A picture Soper snapped inside the bus, showing travellers sat should-to-shoulder, was actually taken during the single bathroom break, he said.
"Pretty much every seat was taken up. The only evidence of social distancing was a tape across the aisle so that the front two rows behind the bus driver were empty."
"I've read that the risk of contracting the virus rises when you're in close proximity with people for more that 15 minutes - we're talking about three and a half hours and those buses aren't very big.
While he was sure that many aboard the bus were surprised at the lax attitude, Soper said his mood was one of resignation - hungry and thirsty, he'd been travelling for 44 hours when he was told another three and a half hours on the road awaited him.
Soper said he wanted to be clear that he supported the Government's actions to fight the pandemic.
"There's lots of good being done. Maybe a few things need to be remedied, but when you contend with other countries, I think the Government is doing a pretty good job."