National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse was right: the two latest confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand did have contact with someone after getting lost on their drive from Auckland to Wellington.
After leaving quarantine in a car provided by friends, the two women got lost on the Auckland motorway system.
The friends who lent them the car met with them and guided them to the right motorway, and were in physical contact for about five minutes.
The National Party’s health spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, told Parliament this afternoon that the pair had hugged and kissed someone on their travels.
That was after Dr Ashley Bloomfield said they had no contact with anyone.
The ministry didn’t confirm if they hugged or kissed their friend, and said it received the update this afternoon.
Woodhouse told Parliament a “reliable but confidential source” had informed him that story was “not all as it seems”.
“They did become disorientated and lost their way coming out of Auckland and needed help to get on the right road,” Woodhouse said.
“They called on acquaintances who they were in close contact with and that was rewarded with even more close contact – a kiss and a cuddle.” . .
The announcement that the women had Covid-19 and hadn’t been tested before being granted compassionate leave from isolation was bad, the new information makes it worse and this shows things can get even more worse:
Former police commissioner Mike Bush has admitted one person who should have returned to managed isolation after a funeral, is still at large.
The 18-year-old was part of a family allowed a compassionate exemption to attend a funeral. The five other family members are now in quarantine after avoiding their return to managed isolation “for some time”.
Initially all six were evading managed isolation. Then four family members returned and just two – an eight-year-old and 18-year-old were missing.
The child has since been brought back to managed isolation and the teenager remains at a family property in Hamilton in self-isolation. . .
Does the fact that it was a gang funeral give confidence that the teenager will self-isolating as required?
But wait, there’s more:
Newshub can reveal another serious blunder by health officials who have failed to follow their own rules.
A group of around 10 people, who were in quarantine in Christchurch, were allowed out early to attend a burial with more than 150 people on Tuesday.
That’s despite the Ministry of Health announcing nine days ago that such exemptions were no longer permitted – leaving a funeral director and his team thoroughly perplexed. . .
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is furious that his staff were forced to mix at a hotel with people who were being put into quarantine.
Boshier told the governance and administration committee this morning that his staff had arranged to stay at a hotel in Auckland before inspecting a prison the next day a few weeks ago.
“Suddenly in the evening, all these people arrived from overseas to be put into quarantine and we weren’t told. So we were all mixed up with everyone else and I was livid.
“I had to cancel the prison visit the next day.” . .
And in spite of the sacrifices we’ve all made and the dangers of importing new cases, Covid-19 tests for people in managed isolation are voluntary:
As two new confirmed Covid-19 cases broke an almost month-long streak of no infections, people in mandatory quarantine have been told that swab testing is voluntary.
It goes against what many people believed was a compulsory test for those entering New Zealand – particularly those coming in from countries where Covid-19 has run rife.
Since April, everyone arriving in the country has had to spend 14 days in managed isolation or a higher level of quarantine if they have symptoms.
The Ministry of Health earlier announced that from June 8, all travellers who arrive in the country would be tested for Covid-19 at their respective facilities. . .
But some guests under mandatory quarantine in Auckland hotels have revealed that they have been told the Covid-19 swab tests are voluntary – not mandatory.
A woman staying at the Grand Millennium, in downtown Auckland, said a pamphlet guests had received said the choice was ultimately theirs.
“I’m worried that they’re not testing everyone,” she said.
“Isolation is so difficult, but this one thing is not compulsory. This country is doing such an incredible job, we can’t mess this up.” . .
The country has been doing an incredible job but the government and the ministry are letting us down and innocent and grieving families who are paying the price:
The Government has refused to apologise for the strict quarantine protocols, despite leaving would-be compassionate exemption recipients heartbroken.
On Tuesday, Jacinda Ardern announced that compassionate exemptions from quarantine have been suspended after two women were allowed to leave isolation without being tested for COVID-19, and later tested positive. . .
“The important thing is to fix this problem,” David Clark said. “The director-general [Ashley Bloonmfield] has owned this failing… I have every sympathy for those people, my expectation is it will be fixed.”
Ardern said the case is an unacceptable failure of the system” that should never have happened and “cannot be repeated”.
“My job is to keep New Zealanders safe, I know the decision to suspend compassionate leave will not be a popular one, but it is the right one,” she said. . .
What does it say about the competence of the people running all this when the military has been brought in to oversee the border?
As more than 300 close contacts linked to New Zealand’s two Covid-19 cases are “encouraged” to get tested, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is bringing in a military leader to oversee the country’s isolation and quarantine facilities.
Ardern addressed media on Wednesday, as the fallout from Tuesday’s revelations two women were able to leave mandatory isolation six days into their stay on compassionate grounds continues to intensify.
Assistant chief of defence, Air Commodore Digby Webb, has now been called in to oversee border facilities, including how travellers depart from them. . .
Most of us did as we were told in adhering to lockdown rules, at considerable personal and financial cost. Why hasn’t the government been doing what it should have been to ensure that the hard-won Covid-free status wasn’t squandered by slack systems and protocols with people coming in from other countries?
It took the detection of two new cases of Covid-19 for the government to take border security and isolation seriously yet the media has been reporting people complaining about lax standards at isolation facilities for at least a week.
“The sacrifice of the ‘team of five million’ cannot be put at risk by a clumsy and incompetent Government that allows bureaucrats to run the show by deciding which of the rules they are going to apply on any given day. . .
Alex Braae echoes this in writing of an avalanche of incompetence:
It is staggering to see so many stories come out all at once, and many people will feel an uncomfortable sense of deja vu. I realise a lot has happened between then and now, but all of these stories feel deeply reminiscent of the incompetence shown at the border before lockdown started. Systems were theoretically in place, but weren’t being enforced with any sort of rigour or discipline, and it took media reports for those who were meant to be in charge to take notice. Readers might also remember that those blunders were arguably what necessitated lockdown in the first place. It’s not bloody good enough at all.
The government lost its social licence for keeping us at level 2 when nothing was said to deter protest marches.
It needs to get quarantine and managed isolation sorted because this week has shown how soon things can go from bad to worse and it won’t have the social licence to lock us up again.