Two new cases leaving isolation ‘an unacceptable failure of the system’ – Ardern

This article is republished with permission under Kaniva News partnership with Radio New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the incident that saw two new Covid-19 cases leaving isolation “should never have happened and cannot be repeated”.

Speaking to media to address actions taken by the government in response to two new Covid-19 cases announced yesterday, Ardern said the case represented “an unacceptable failure of the system”.

“From the beginning we have taken an extraordinarily cautious approach at the border … that is also why we required tests to be undertaken at those facilities – one at day 3 and one at day 12.

“That should have happened in the cases we learned about yesterday, it did not and there are no excuses.”

Watch the PM’s media conference here:

The Prime Minister said she is appointing assistant chief of defence Air Commodore Darryn Webb to oversee all quarantine and managed isolation facilities.

Webb will also undertake an audit of all the existing systems and written protocols to ensure they were being fully implemented.

“When I talk about us needing to have confidence, rigour and discipline at our isolation facilities, that means making sure we have the security that New Zealanders and indeed Ministers expect at those facilities. We have had uniformed individuals working them, we have had oversight to ensure people are doing what they are required to do, and that is stay put.”

Ardern said the suspension of compassionate exemptions will continue “until such time as we can guarantee a disciplined and rigourous system at the border that ministers have confidence in”.

She said there has been pressure from many corners to relax the rules for compassionate exemptions.

“I know the decision to suspend compassionate leave will not be a popular one, but it is the right one … we are meeting the expectations of New Zealanders and that comes first.”

Dr Bloomfield yesterday revealed the two new cases to be two women who arrived from the UK on Sunday 7 June, and were granted a compassionate exemption to leave managed isolation in Auckland to visit their dying parent in Wellington.

Ardern said the two New Zealanders have done nothing wrong and had taken every effort to follow their isolation plan agreed with for the compassionate exemption.

She said she had never been directly contacted by the two women in question, or if she was she never saw it.

Health Minister David Clark yesterday temporarily suspended the exemptions after the news.

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has since announced inspections at all Covid-19 isolation and quarantine facilities set up for people arriving from overseas.

Boshier said at one hotel, new arrivals in the country were able to mingle with other guests, including his staff.

Opposition leader Todd Muller told RNZ’s Morning Report today the stakes were too high for the rules not to be followed, and has called for Clark to be sacked over the management of the women’s case.

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