The source of the new COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand has been reported. According to media reports, someone recently visited the SkyCity Auckland casino and, whether they knew it or not, was carrying the virus. This may have put more than 1,200 people at risk of infection and the casino has had to undergo a massive deep clean-up.

SkyCity Auckland becomes Ground Zero

SkyCity Auckland, run by SkyCity Group, cannot be blamed for the new spike in COVID-19 cases in the area, but the casino is definitely not happy about what happened. According to local media reports, the casino was visited last weekend by someone apparently carrying the virus, and from there COVID-19 may have spread. It is reported that SkyCity has already identified 1,000 guests and 240 staff who were in the casino room at the time of the person's visit, and they all have to spend time in self-isolation to try to prevent further spread.

According to SkyCity CEO Michael Ahern, "Public health authorities have advised that all customers who were on the main gaming floor at the same time are considered close contacts and are advised to stay home, monitor for symptoms and get tested." The casino property is closed under New Zealand's COVID-19 quarantine measures, which is an advantage. This gives the hotel enough time and space to thoroughly clean the premises, including the playground, back rooms and more, without inconveniencing guests. SkyCity has been forced to close its casinos in Auckland, Hamilton and Queensland, with the latter two hotels only closed for three days. The Auckland site has been closed for seven hours.

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Tracking distribution

According to SkyCity Auckland, the first guest to start it all was at the hotel in the early hours of Saturday morning. The casino began reviewing surveillance footage and player activity to determine who was present between 1:15am and 3am to inform them of the problem. Ahern adds: "This is part of the process we are engaged in in relation to public health officials providing such detailed information as we can provide." Ahearn believes more can be done to speed up the identification process and there could be some changes.

A COVID-19 tracking app is now available in New Zealand that anyone can use. It allows people to see where hotspots exist and to 'scan' when they arrive at their destination. However, use of the app is voluntary, and while casino staff reassure visitors that they must scan, they cannot require them to do so. However, because of the new outbreak and the problems in identifying those who may be infected, Ahern believes the government may require everyone to start indicating where they are and when through the app.

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