A ramen shop visited by a customer who later tested positive for Covid-19 received a wave of online backlash after posting about the incident.
The Ramen Shop in Newtown posted on social media at 1pm on Friday saying a member of the regional public health team had contacted staff to inform them a person later confirmed to have Covid-19 visited their store on Wednesday, August 5, between 5.30pm and 7pm.
At Friday’s 1pm press conference, Health Minister Chris Hipkins appeared to be unaware of the case, saying he was “not going to continue to comment on every speculation on social media”.
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But The Ramen Shop has since re-posted to social media, after the backlash, stating it was told the information was going to be shared at the press conference.
“We were surprised to hear about the denial at today’s press conference as we were informed it would be included. Since then, we have received many messages of love and support, which we value highly.
“Unfortunately some feel the need to make unhelpful and hurtful comments, this is not what our staff deserve. We will continue to be open and honest about all information we receive. We have no reason or desire to spread misinformation.”
The post included proof of the email the store received from regional public health.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the visitor, a Japanese traveller who left New Zealand on August 8, visited the store on August 5.
The ministry spokesperson said the traveller transited through Singapore en route to Japan.
”As part of our normal processes, we have been informed about two travellers who left New Zealand and later tested positive for Covid-19 overseas.
“The Japanese traveller spent some time in Wellington prior to departure and visited The Ramen Shop, among a number of other places.
“These premises are all considered casual contacts of the traveller. They have been contacted and provided with advice as part of the normal contact tracing process. No further action is required from any of these premises as the risk is considered very low.”
The traveller was “asymptomatic” in New Zealand.
The store was still open when visited by Stuff on Friday afternoon, with customers dining in.
The store’s co-owner, Tsubasa Takahashi, said a staff member who had been sick for a while had been instructed to get tested.
“We have been told this is a low-risk situation, we are following all guidelines given to us and will continue to assess the situation as and when we have more information.
“We are continuing to operate under the level 2 guidelines, as the Ministry of Health has encouraged us to do.
“We encourage anyone who dined with us then or since who is showing Covid-19 symptoms to get in touch with their GP or contact the Covid-19 health line,” said the store’s post on Facebook.
The ministry website states close contact is defined as any person with exposure to a confirmed or probable case during the case’s infectious period, without appropriate personal protective equipment.
Casual contact regards any person with exposure to the case who does not meet the criteria for a close contact.