Two sisters arrived from South Africa earlier this month healthy and free of Covid-19.
But one would fall victim to infection – and now their mother believes her youngest daughter, just 15 years old, contracted the virus while they were in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.
Candice Botha told Stuff her two daughters, aged 15 and 20, flew from South Africa and arrived in Auckland on Saturday, January 9, and were put on a bus to the Pullman.
The hotel is now known to be where the latest three confirmed community cases stayed in managed isolation also.
Botha said it was that bus trip where alarm bells started ringing, as the girls saw that they had been put together with people sporting purple armbands; indicating people from Covid high-risk countries like the United Kingdom and the US.
The eldest of the girls told Stuff that she and her sister mostly kept to themselves during their hotel stay, especially after seeing overseas arrivals mingling in the hallway – despite arriving on different flights.
There was little social distancing at the hotel as people played basketball and kids were running around, Stuff reported.
The sisters tested negative for Covid on their day 12 test on January 20.
But the next day, two days before the pair were set to leave managed isolation, the 15-year-old became sick, Stuff reported.
The family said the teenager had struggled to breathe and a day later, she tested positive for Covid-19.
Passengers from different flights mixed and mingled
Their mother said both her girls were fastidious about being clean as they have been living in South Africa during the global pandemic, so must have caught the virus at the Pullman due to lack of social distancing.
She also believes her daughters stayed in a room next to the two latest cases confirmed in the community – since identified as a man and his young child – on the North Shore.
“These facilities are there for a reason – you’re there to isolate. You’re supposed to be isolating away from people,” she told Stuff
Pullman Hotel no longer taking returnees
Yesterday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that no more returnees would stay at the Pullman Auckland hotel.
The hotel would eventually be emptied and effectively be put on hold as a managed isolation facility, as a deep clean would be carried out.
The sisters are now at the Jet Park quarantine facility in South Auckland and the younger of the pair is said to be recovering well.
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