A publicly published report, written by Canterbury County Health Board doctors, documented their experience managing the first group of 235 Russian and Ukrainian sailors in October / November of last year.
During the extended quarantine period for sailors at the Sudima Christchurch Airport, two health workers contracted Covid-19, although there was no evidence of violations of infection prevention and control protocols or their use of personal protective equipment.
The report found that the most dangerous factor was a “double click”, in which the first group of international sailors slept two people in the same room.
She added, “Tests on the third day showed that 18 of the guests were incubating severe injuries upon their arrival.”
A total of 32 sailors from Group A tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Josh Freeman, one of the report’s co-authors, a microbiologist and clinical director for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), said many sailors were at the peak of the virus at the same time.
Before the test, large numbers were moving back and forth through the aisles to exit into the smoking area.
“In a hotel environment with poor ventilation in the corridors, all of these factors add up to being favorable for inhaling Covid-19 aerosols (extremely small droplets).”
As a result of the trial, CDHB worked closely with MIQ staff to bring about changes to the way the second group is managed, said Dr Anna Stephenson, another co-author of Health.
They arrived in Christchurch in early January of this year.
“Many changes were introduced immediately and we are happy to report that the accommodation for the second group of sailors was made without any problems.
“Each of them had their own room. We identified those who smoked and made sure they had rooms with open balconies and windows to ensure fresh air flow, and to eliminate the need for these guests to move through the corridors to a smoking area outside.”
Stevenson said that over the past two weeks, an MIQ 20 health worker helped sailors quit smoking while staying in managed isolation, using NRT.