A staff member is in isolation and dozens of patients and other staff are required to get COVID tests following a breach of protocol at Geraldton Hospital where an infected crew member from a bulk carrier was being treated, health authorities have revealed.
- The infected crew member was in the ED for up to three hours
- 28 staff and 18 patients are considered casual contacts
- Another staff member is in isolation after using a lift before it was cleaned
The man in his 50s was taken from the MV Emerald Indah on Sunday evening as a suspected COVID case before tests confirmed he had the virus.
WA Country Health Service principal health officer Helen Van Gessel said the incident happened on Monday, while the crew member was waiting to be transferred to a Perth hospital.
“The breach occurred when a staff member, who wasn’t involved in the transfer of the patient, entered the lift that the patient had been in before it could be appropriately cleaned,” she said.
“That staff member was not wearing PPE.”
Dr Van Gessel said the breach was immediately identified and the fully vaccinated staff member, who was deemed a close contact, was sent home to isolate for 14 days.
Emergency department patients, staff to get tested
Public health emergency operations cordinator Clare Huppatz said the man spent up to three hours in a curtained cubicle in the emergency department, instead of being treated in a negative pressure room.
“On this occasion the patient was in the emergency department for longer than you would expect, up to three hours,” she said.
“There’s a very small risk because of that, that there might have been a transmission event inside the emergency department.”
She said 28 staff, 18 patients and five visitors had so far been identified as being present in the area at the time, and would be considered casual contacts.
Those people are not required to isolate but will need to be tested for the virus at three points over the next 14 days.
In April, a breach of protocol occurred while transferring a COVID patient in Royal Perth Hospital, which also involved staff members using an elevator before it had been cleaned.
The MV Emerald Indah is at the Kwinana Anchorage and does not have permission to berth or disembark any other crew members.