The source of a new COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand has been reportedly found. According to media reports, someone took a recent trip to the SkyCity Auckland casino and, aware or not, that person was carrying the virus. It may have left more than 1,200 people at risk of being infected and has led to the casino having to undergo a massive deep-cleaning.
SkyCity Auckland Becomes Ground Zero
SkyCity Auckland, run by the SkyCity Group, can’t be blamed for a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the area, but the casino certainly isn’t happy with what has transpired. According to local media outlets, someone apparently carrying the virus visited the casino last weekend and, from there, COVID-19 may have spread. SkyCity is said to have already identified 1,000 guests and 240 employees who were on the casino floor at the time the individual was visiting, and all of those are required to spend time self-isolating to try to prevent a further spread.
According to SkyCity CEO Michael Ahearne, “Public Health Authorities have advised that all customers who were on the main gaming floor at the same time are deemed close contacts and are advised to stay at home, watch for symptoms and get tested.” The casino property is closed in accordance with New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown measures, which is a benefit. It gives the property enough time and space to thoroughly clean its facilities, including the gaming floor, back-of-house operations and more, without inconveniencing guests. SkyCity has been forced to close its casinos in Auckland, Hamilton and Queensland, with the latter two properties only shutting down for three days. The Auckland venue is closed for seven.
Tracing the Spread
According to SkyCity Auckland, the original guest that started it all was at the property early Saturday morning. The casino began reviewing surveillance footage and player activity to identify who was present between 1:15 AM and 3 AM that morning to inform them of the issue. Ahearne adds, “It is part of the process that we are dealing with in relation to the public health officials in giving that sort of detailed information that we’re able to provide.” Ahearne believes that more could be done to expedite the identification process, and some changes may be coming.
Currently, New Zealand has available a COVID-19 tracer app that everyone can use. It allows individuals to see where hotspots exist, as well as to “scan in” when they arrive at a destination. However, use of the app is voluntary and, although casino employees impress upon visitors that they should scan in, they can’t require them to do so. However, because of the new outbreak and the challenges of identifying those who may be infected, Ahearne believes that the government could require everyone to start indicating where they are and when through the app.