Government to blame for border testing bungle

A report released today shows the Government is squarely to blame for the border testing bungle that resulted in a security guard at a MIQ hotel going five months without being tested when he should have been tested fortnightly, National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“The Government announced mandatory testing at our border last August but still can’t get it right, and it’s putting all New Zealanders at risk.

“The report shows the Border Worker Testing Register (BWTR) established by the Government has been, and likely remains, inadequate. Despite mandatory testing being compulsory since last August, the BWTR remained a voluntary system until 27 April 2021.

“The BWTR showed Case B as being compliant with his required testing until late March 2021, except for a five day period, when in actual fact he wasn’t.

“The border testing regime is critical to our elimination strategy. There is nobody to blame for this failure other than the Government.

“Today’s report is very concerning. It outlines delays in uploading data and delays and inaccuracies in the linking of National Health Index numbers with personal profiles.

“The employer of Case B couldn’t view test dates for its more than 600 employees working at the border. Incredibly, that employer still couldn’t see test dates for about 60 employees when the report was written because their NHI numbers still hadn’t been linked.

“It was only in April that texts or emails started to be sent to employers about upcoming tests. This is an unbelievable oversight.

“The BWTR doesn’t even hold the results of the test, so it’s up to workers to tell their employers if they test positive.

“The Government has put in place an honesty system, relying on employers and employees to follow the law and do the right thing. But not only did the Government not give those workers and their bosses the tools to comply, it didn’t follow up and check that they actually were.

“Good governance is about designing systems to cope with human error. In this case, the Government failed to put in place an effective system and failed to properly audit the system.

“Rather than punching down and blaming security guards, or KFC workers, the Government should take responsibility for this bungle.”