Testing of workers who were supposed to be keeping Covid-19 at the border has been ramped up:
On Thursday Investigations Reporter Michael Morrah reported only 1089 of 2980 border workers in Auckland had been tested as of August 3 – meaning around 63.5 percent of the Auckland border workforce had never had a test.
On Friday Minister of Health Chris Hipkins confirmed mass COVID-19 testing is now underway at border, port and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities. . .
When asked why COVID-19 testing for border workers hadn’t been compulsory before, Hipkins said it was because “compulsory testing is quite a big lever to pull”.
“I think the Government exercises a great deal of caution in making it compulsory for everyone to undergo a medical procedure.”
That caution and reluctance to pull that lever may well have been what has let us all down and necessitated the much bigger lever of ordering Auckland into level 3 lockdown and the rest of us back to level 2.
We don’t yet know who was patient zero and where he or she contracted Covid-19. But if the country was free of community transmission for more than 100 days the disease must have come through the border and failure to test everyone who might have been in a position to contract it was a very big hole in the border fence.
There will always be human error but this was far worse than an accident. Pattrick Smellie sums it up:
There is plenty of evidence in the bizarrely vague testing regime applied to New Zealanders working at the border that Pike River levels of incompetence and dysfunction lurk in the public health system and could yet be fatally exposed.
Hipkins has admitted there was not enough testing:
“I would have liked to see more tests earlier, yes it would be fair to say that,” Chris Hipkins said during a media briefing on Friday.
It is fair to say that when we’ve all been told endlessly that we’re in a team of five million and we must do all we can to keep ourselves safe, that we need a government that does all it could to keep us safe and it hasn’t.