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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 4—Health

4. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm Ministry of Health guidelines dated 9 June that people can only apply for compassionate leave from managed isolation after they have completed seven days of managed isolation and had a negative COVID-19 test; if so, how many days of managed isolation did the two confirmed COVID-19 cases announced yesterday complete before they left on 13 June?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): In answer to the first part of the question: yes. That’s why I am so disappointed that these rules were not applied in the latest case. New Zealanders made real sacrifices during lockdown; they rightly expected our border measures would keep COVID-19 out of the community. I’m advised that the two individuals, who have done everything that was asked of them, left on day seven of their managed isolation—meaning they had completed six days. They were not tested as required by the published guidelines, and there are questions over the thoroughness of the health checks completed prior to departure. That’s why yesterday I required the Director-General of Health to suspend compassionate exemptions until the Government is satisfied that not only are the correct policies and protections in place but they are actually being followed.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Has he asked for confirmation that the 196 other people granted compassionate exemptions from managed isolation were tested before they left the facility, and, if so, what was the response?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: That is an inquiry that is ongoing. Yes, I have sought that assurance.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Were the two individuals, confirmed with COVID yesterday, accompanied on their drive to Wellington, and, if not, how can he be 100 percent sure that they did not stop during the trip?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: They were not accompanied, and I am assured that they have been the kind of people, and have demonstrated, that they have followed the protocols in place with their self-isolation plan.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Has he seen reports that the two individuals went the wrong way on their journey to Wellington and came into close contact with the people who gave them directions?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: No, I have seen no evidence of that.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Well, what do you know?

SPEAKER: Order! Dr Nick Smith will withdraw and apologise.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Was he aware that the good Samaritans who assisted them were rewarded with a kiss and a cuddle, and would he consider that to be a close contact?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I would be deeply concerned if that were the case. I have been assured that there was no contact on their journey to the place where they visited their relative in the Wellington region.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has he been advised of the details and facts behind the allegations in that last question?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I have not. I have certainly asked the question about whether there was any contact at all, and I have been assured that there was no contact along the way. So I have certainly not heard that report, and if the member has actually heard that and not passed it on, that would be very deeply concerning.