New Zealand's isolation facilities under 'extreme stress'; need 'revamping'

WION Web Team Wellington, New Zealand Jun 28, 2020, 07.48 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

It comes after a number of reports of people mixing and mingling in facilities, people leaving managed isolation without having been tested at all for Covid-19 and members of the public holding events in hotels where managed isolation is taking place.

New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities are under "extreme stress" and unable to respond to increasing demands as more New Zealanders return home, a review has found.

The review found “resources required to support the managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) function have failed to keep pace with the increased volume of returnees”.

“The team found that the system, whilst not broken, is under extreme stress and is not readily able to respond to the increasing demands being placed upon it,” the review found.

“This has resulted in a very dedicated team having to confront immediate issues with limited capacity to plan ahead,” the review said, adding that this was “impacting on staff wellbeing and the confidence that returnees have in the process”.

Also read: What's the reality beneath 'picture-perfect' New Zealand?

The review also identified there was an absence of standardised information for those returning to New Zealand and often the first they knew of MIQ was when they had a health check on arrival at the airport.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the review on June 17 on the same day she announced she was appointing Air Commodore Darryn Webb to conduct the review and oversee border management.

Also read: New Zealand records two cases of coronavirus in returning travellers

Air Commodore Webb, along with Housing Minister Megan Woods, who has been appointed the minister-in-charge of quarantine and isolation facilities, announced the outcome of the review at Parliament on Saturday.

Announcing the results of the review, New Zealand’s housing minister, Megan Wood, said: “While the system was manageable under level-4 (restrictions), when there was only small numbers of New Zealanders returning home, it is now a system under stress, with arrivals increasing by 73% last week, compared to the beginning of April.”

It comes after a number of reports of people mixing and mingling in facilities, people leaving managed isolation without having been tested at all for Covid-19 and members of the public holding events in hotels where managed isolation is taking place.