Govt should make Day 3 isolation tests compulsory

The Health Minister should focus on delivering the comprehensive Covid-19 testing his Government promised rather than digging a deeper hole and putting us all at risk, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Chris Hipkins’ decision to publically minimise the importance of mandatory day three tests in managed isolation, rather than simply fix this hole in our border defence, is surprising.

“Hearing the Minister of Health say day three tests are ‘irrelevant’ for keeping Covid-19 out, and describe the lack of compulsory testing as ‘a storm in a teacup’ flies in the face of expert and public opinion.

“The Minister’s attitude is symptomatic of the complacency from his Government that saw border-facing staff not being tested.

“Day three tests aren’t irrelevant. Actually, they’re quite important. They identify asymptomatic cases early so those people can be moved to quarantine and avoid infecting others in managed isolation, not to mention the staff working there.

“Experts, including Dr Ashley Bloomfield, have extolled the importance of day three tests. Shaun Hendy, who modelled the Government’s border response, says day three testing is important.

“Without mandatory day three testing the first time a returnee is tested is 12 days after they arrive in New Zealand. That's a long time for potentially positive cases to be mixing with others in isolation.

“It’s also worrying that the Ministry of Health can’t say how many people in managed isolation haven’t been tested on day three when the media can quickly run the numbers and find it was a little more than 6600 people as of the end of July.

“National’s comprehensive border plan includes mandatory day three testing in managed isolation and weekly testing of all border staff.

“We have said we are a constructive Opposition seeking to lift the collective bar. Here, then, is an evidence-based, constructive proposal, and we challenge Chris Hipkins to lift the bar.”