It’s taken six months for the government to make it mandatory for border staff to have regular tests for Covid-19.
The Government will require all border workers to take regular Covid-19 tests, or face a stiff fine, with a new order coming into effect at midnight on Sunday.
The order covers workers at air and maritime borders, as well as managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Refusing a test without “a reasonable excuse” makes such workers liable for fines of between $300 and $1000.
Healthcare workers are able to allow people to not get tested if they believe it would be inappropriate. . .
Six months is a long time to do what ought to be done. It belies the government’s hard and early line.
The government has finally got where it should have been months ago but there is still room for improvement in other areas.
It shouldn’t take six months to act on that because National’s Health spokesman Dr Shane Reti has helpfully come up with a five-point plan for a better Covid response:
National has identified five ways in which the Government could immediately improve our response to Covid-19, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Labour’s failures at the border have brought on another wave of Covid-19, the consequences of which are costing New Zealanders jobs, businesses and livelihoods.
“National has developed a detailed border plan that will keep the virus at bay while allowing our economy to thrive. New Zealanders deserve this rather than the ad-hoc system that is currently in place.
“As well as this improved border plan, there are five practical steps the Government could be taking right now to keep New Zealanders safe:
- Re-test people for genomics within 24 hours of every positive case. Currently only 50 percent of samples have been genomically sequenced. Increasing this would help us identify linkages and the heritage of the virus.
- Require a negative Covid-19 test turn-around time of 48 hours. People have been using up all of their sick leave waiting days for negative results. It is important positive tests continue to be the priority and reported in 24 hours. But negative tests should be tightened up with a measurable target of 80 percent of negative tests reported in 48 hours.
- Require people who have been declined tests to be recorded in the National Contact Tracing Solution. It is important we have this information because we may have people who turn up for testing who’ve failed the case definition, but subsequently test positive. And if we know who they are then we can improve the case definition.
- Make day-three managed isolation testing compulsory. The sooner we identify positive cases who have crossed our border, the more effective and safe our response is.
- Improve the Covid-19 app so that it can display information as well. Currently the app can pull location information from what is being scanned, but it would be more effective if it could also share user information. This would make the contact tracing system much more efficient and effective as people could be identified quickly.
“We’re in the middle of a second spike of Covid-19 and we need to move quickly. I encourage the Government to consider these five proposals to raise our collective bar and protect us all.”
All of these look sensible and none appear to be difficult to implement.
The government should be open to all good ideas to improve the Covid response.
It must not let politics get in the way of constructive suggestions just because they come from the National Party and it must act a lot faster on these improvements than it did on mandatory testing for border staff.