Dr Sarah Berger & Sacha McMillan

Canterbury District Health Board

Establishment of a dedicated sports managed isolation facility: Lessons learned from the field.

Concurrent session:
Pursuant to clause 15A of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020, the Minister of Health, may grant an exemption from clauses 8(2) and 8(3) of the Order for an international sports team to participate in a Government-approved sports event (as per H5.30.15 of the Immigration Instructions). This allowed concessions for sports teams to train and congregate in bubbles during their 14-day managed isolation period. Our paper provides insights into management of Canterbury’s dedicated Sports MIF from an infection prevention and control nursing perspective. 

A range of IPC precautions were implemented to mitigate risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission as much as possible under exemption conditions. Key strategies included: enhanced surveillance testing, health check protocols and low-risk indicators being met prior to bubble formation for training. In addition, designated zones were created within the MIQF and at both off-site and on-site training facilities with strict PPE and physical distancing protocols applied outside training zones.

Ten international sports teams from rugby (n=1), netball (n=2) and cricket (n=7) travelled to New Zealand between September 2020 and March 2021. Single historical cases of COVID-19 infection were identified in two separate teams. 10 active cases were identified in one team. Although protocol breeches (foul play) by team members occurred on occasion, no guest-to-guest or guest-to-staff transmission events occurred.

Hospital-based IPC expertise was translated into the new sports MIF environment. IPC Specialists had to consistently kept their eyes on the ball to ensure IPC policy and practice remained fit for purpose, despite goalposts constantly shifting in response to epidemiological risk profiles internationally.

Dr Sarah Berger is Nursing Director for the CDHB Infection Prevention & Control Service. Sarah is passionate about IPC and improving collaboration among members of health care teams in the interest of patient safety and improved patient outcomes. After hours, Sarah trains regularly with the IPC synchronised swimming team at the Burwood Hospital hydrotherapy pool.

Sacha McMillan is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the CDHB Infection Prevention and Control Service. Sacha enjoys working with staff to improve their understanding of all things IPC. Weekend hobbies include horseback riding and she is an active member of the IPC synchronised swimming team.

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