Another day, another report on holes in our border protection:
Health workers in New Zealand quarantine hotels are some of the worst protected in the developed world, according to a man in managed isolation who’s helped kit out medical staff all over the world.
Tim Jones says he predicted the current outbreak when he arrived at his isolation hotel two weeks ago, shocked by the low level of personal protective equipment worn by nurses, defence force personnel and border workers.
He was returning home from Britain after working for four years for a New Zealand-owned, US-based company RPB which provided protective equipment for frontline workers in hospitals in 50 countries, mostly the United States, Britain and Europe.
“In short, New Zealand has been the worst protected for frontline health workers that we have seen,” Jones said.
“I guess probably the biggest red flags were when we landed at the border. We only saw surgical masks, including on army people who were on the bus with us so obviously in close proximity, travelling to our managed isolation facility.”
He was “completely blown away” to find out from a New Zealand Defence Force contact that even staff who worked in Auckland’s Jet Park, where most people have Covid-19, were wearing the most basic surgical masks. . .
Where’s WorkSafe when we need them?
Failing to provide border staff who are dealing with potentially infected people with the best PPE is a serious breach of employer responsibility. It is even worse for staff in facilities where people with the disease are quarantined.
If farms didn’t provide staff with good protective equipment when they’re dealing with dangerous chemicals they’d be liable for prosecution for health and safety breaches. Not providing MIQ staff with adequate protection from a potentially fatal illness looks like a similarly serious breach.
The Ministry of Health is urgently looking into whether to use N95 masks at the highest risk facilities, like Jet Park.
Dr Bloomfield said there was growing evidence workers who had contracted the virus at managed isolation hotels may have caught it from transmission through the air.
This is a case where precaution should come before the evidence. It’s much better to provide more protection than necessary than to wait until the need for it is proved or disproved.
The Nurses Organisation has been calling for the better level protection, saying it did not know why it was not there already.
It also wants an investigation into how all managed isolation facilities are being run.
This follows David Farrar’s revelation of this mismanagement of a man who flew with someone who tested positive for Covid-19:
I’ve been contacted by the family of someone who was in the same row as the positive Covid-19 contact on Air NZ flight 457 on Thursday.
They have been given different isolation instructions from every agency they have interacted with. They are so alarmed as the lack of coherent and consistent advice, that they want people to be aware that we still have systematic failures in our Covid-19 response, as we saw with the lack of front line worker testing. . .
Theses are systems failures and each one adds credence to the belief that eliminating Covid-19 in the community and keeping it at the border owes at least as much to good luck as good management.