Wellington’s Cowide 19 cases are being allowed to exercise in an underground car park, raising concerns that MIQ workers are being put at unnecessary risk.
Wellington’s Delta has a variety of certified cases housed at the Grand Mercury Hotel, except for at least one person who is in the hospital.
An aerosol chemist says a closed underground car park increases the likelihood of transmission, while a public health expert says the hotel is not suitable for quarantine.
Brigadier Rose King, co-head of organized isolation and quarantine, said people living in Grand Mercury, Wellington, were still able to use the hotel’s “fresh air” area – the underground car park.
This is despite the positive experience for the Cove 19, and the Delta variety of growing transitions.
“Organized isolation or quarantine is a challenging time that people go through in different ways,” King said.
“Being able to access fresh air supports their well-being.
“There are infection prevention and control protocols in the fresh air area, and returnees are required to wear a medical face mask at all times and to clean their hands before and after entering the exercise area. It is important to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters. “
University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Randylab said he sympathized with the quarantine victims in Wellington.
But he said these measures have not always been enough to stop the spread of Covid 19, and in particular the spread of the Delta variety.
“They’re definitely helpful, but they’re not going to be 100% perfect, as we’ve seen in the past with the types of aerosol transmissions at MIQ facilities,” Randlub said.
“Bringing them to the corridors or to the confined spaces where we know there is no airflow, where they are not controlling the ventilation, we do not know how many air changes are taking place per hour.” There is a risk of aerosol transmission. “
RNZ understands that people have to get out of their rooms to go to the underground car park and should be guided by MIQ staff, usually Defense Forces men who take them down to the parking lot.
Air filtration units have been installed in corridors and elevators, and each room has a positive case with only a HEPA filter installed, Brigadier King said.
Rindelaub said it was a good standard, but using an underground car park for exercise was still very dangerous.
“It can’t even pass a smell test,” he said.
“If you are in some of these closed car parks, you can smell the rest of the smoke from car occupants.
“Whenever you are in this environment you know that there is not enough ventilation to get fresh air, so parking a car will be much more dangerous than the actual outdoor environment from which you are getting fresh air. . the environment. “
Nick Wilson, a professor of public health at the University of Otago, said he would not want to live near an underground car park, although there have been positive cases.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for MIQ workers to get involved in this process because although the masks are good, they are not perfect, and thus MIQ workers are unnecessarily at risk. ۔ “
Correction work is underway.
While filters have been installed in occupied rooms and communal areas, ventilation improvements are still being made in some parts of the Grand Mercury Hotel.
Brigadier King said work would be completed earlier this month, with the second phase of work, on the other side of the hotel not currently in use, to begin soon.
The work includes cleaning the ventilation ducts, replacing faulty exhaust fans and replacing window seals.
Wilson said the Grand Mercury is not intended for use, and should not be used.
“It seems difficult, I mean the treatment should have ended,” Wilson said.
“It would be very disturbing if people who are known to be positive and contagious are exercising in an underground car park with potentially poor ventilation, so this seems to be a very unsatisfactory situation. ۔ “
Wilson said people living in Grand Mercury should be provided with exercise equipment, such as exercise bikes, to use in their rooms instead of being allowed out in the underground car park.
Brigadier King said the MIQ Technical Advisory Group has downplayed the risk of ventilation problems at the facility.