An Auckland Airport worker cleaned “green zone” planes flying to Australia on Monday before testing positive for Covid-19.
The news was delivered by Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay at today’s 1pm briefing.
“The person worked three shifts during their infectious period with a number of colleagues and cleaned green zone planes flying back to Australia on Monday,” McElnay said.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the worker cleaning both red zone – where they likely picked up their infection – and green zone planes where there was “minimal risk” of catching, or spreading the virus between zones.
When pressed by reporters why cleaners are allowed to work between the two zones, Hipkins explained there is “a difference between the way we handle passengers and people who work at the airport.
“We have robust protection measures in place with PPE and those workers are free to go out in the community after work to be with their family etc,” Hipkins stated.
He went on to say Australia uses the same protocols at their airports.
The cleaner was an employee of Menzies Aviation.
The company told 1 NEWS in a statement it is following the advices of the Government and Ministry of Health.
"The individual has self-isolated and we are currently undertaking a deep clean of the site. We are working with the Government to inform any employees who may have come into contact with the individual and where appropriate, those people will also be asked to self-isolate."
Air NZ have confirmed they have internal cleaning staff and do not use Menzies Aviation.
An investigation into the airport worker’s case is underway and Hipkins says methods will change if needed.
Today’s case update comes as Hipkins said genomic sequencing has shown the Auckland Airport worker who contracted Covid-19 yesterday has the UK variant.
It is most closely linked to a passenger that arrived April 10.