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Source: New Zealand Government

The Government welcomes the release of papers from the Independent Continuous Review, Improvement and Advice Group into the Auckland February cluster, COVID-19 Response minister Chris Hipkins said today.

The group, led by Sir Brian Roche, includes businessman Rob Fyfe, Chief Advisor Pacific for the Ministry of Health Dr Debbie Ryan, epidemiologist Professor Philip Hill, and public health expert Dr Dale Bramley as members.

“These papers demonstrate the value this external oversight group brings to the Government’s philosophy of constant improvement and learning,” Chris Hipkins said.

“It’s vital there is robust debate and transparency on such a critical issue. Some of the key insights in this report are being taken on board or have been superseded and others are being worked through.

“Performance against five key indicators were measured as 94% or better, and we’ve made further progress on contact tracing and workforce planning and capability issues, as the system continues to get stronger. 

“And, as the group acknowledges, relationships and coordination across the health system and into the community has improved from earlier outbreaks.

“It’s important to remember that, as a county, we’ve done incredibly well in keeping out and eliminating community cases of the COVID-19 virus.

The group finds that New Zealand’s COVID-19 response has ‘successfully eliminated community outbreaks, now including one caused by a new variant virus – the Auckland February 2021 Outbreak’.

“And since then, responsiveness has continued to improve, which we saw during the Wellington case in June. 

“That’s in large part down to the efforts of our health and border workers who week in and week out keep us all safe.

“But you only have to look at developments overseas, and the emergence of new more contagious variants, to see that with COVID-19, we cannot let our guard down, and we will not.

“We’ve asked the group to shift to a new rhythm – which will see them provide updates every few weeks that can regularly plug into operations and policy making.

“It’s also shifting its focus to informing a ‘fit-for-the-future’ model that builds on what is already in place, that recognises the fast pace of global change and emerging scientific understanding.”

Chris Hipkins said New Zealand’s approach and the sustained efforts of our border and health staff have put us in a privileged position.   

“It’s exhausting work but it’s necessary and we thank them. The Government is actively working to relieve pressure on staff working hard to keep their country safe.”

MIL OSI