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Auckland – Pharmaceutical scientist Sir Ray Avery is calling for an urgent independent commission of inquiry into the management of New Zealand’s covid quarantine facilities.

This follows gaps in the Jet Park Hotel high security quarantine facility in Auckland where a covid infected nurse working at the hotel was allowed to attended multiple group fitness classes, supermarkets and a large store.

Avery, who is an expert in the control of infectious diseases in closed room environments, says there is evidence of multiple failures in New Zealand’s quarantine facilities.

“This purely negates the efforts and sacrifices that all New Zealanders have made to prevent community transmission of covid -19,” Sir Ray says.

The principle of eradicating diseases such as leprosy was to build quarantine facilities where no one was allowed to leave the facility unless they were disease free.

“At the Jet Park airport hotel nursing staff and other service staff, who have exposed to the most concentrated group of covid infected patients, are allowed to go out into the community at the end of the day while being infected with covid -19.

“This is not a quarantine facility but a community  covid inoculation facility.

“What makes this revelation more damaging is that the majority of our frontline medical staff are not being provided with the correct PPE N95 approved respirator masks to prevent them from contracting covid from the infected quarantined people they are monitoring and testing.

“It is a legal Worksafe requirement for frontline medical staff dealing with infectious diseases that they be issued with fitting N95 respirator masks to prevent them from contracting life-threatening infections.

However, information acquired under the Official Information Act (OIA), shows the Ministry of Health has been undertaking work to understand fit testing procedures across all DHBs. Exceptionally low numbers of the workforce had been fit tested.”

“So pretty much none of our frontline healthcare workers are wearing the correct fit tested PPE respirator masks which would prevent them from contracting covid.

“This is a perfect storm with respect to an instrument for promoting community transmission of covid-19.

“Effectively, we are containing all the highly contagious covid people in a hotel; getting a nurse to routinely come into contact with her infected patients while not wearing the correctly fit-tested PPE and then send her out into the community.

“For the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders we need an independent commission of inquiry into our border quarantine controls. All the sacrifices which have been made by so many Kiwis will be for nothing. We need to get this right.”

For further information contact Make Lemonade NZ editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.