How many close and casual contacts at Middlemore?

Despite questions in Parliament yesterday, intense media interest in the matter today, and advanced notice that I was going to return to the issue today, Minister of Health Andrew Little still hasn’t bothered to find out the most important details about the Covid-positive patient at Middlemore Hospital, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“Auckland is in the midst of a Level 4 lockdown and the Health Minister does not know how many total contacts have arisen from the Covid-positive patient who was held with other patients on a General Ward for around 7 or 8 hours.

“New Zealanders – especially Aucklanders – deserve to know the scale of the outbreak when they are complying with the strictest public health measures ever seen in this country.

“The Minister needs to share information like if the patient was transported by ambulance, how many other people were in the Emergency Department at the time he was there, and how many patients other than those in his room potentially were exposed to him.

“Additionally, how many of these people have subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, how many are isolating, and what impact is this having on the workforce at Middlemore?

“Today a clearly struggling Health Minister came to Parliament without the most basic information. He did not know the total number of ‘close contacts’, ‘close plus’, ‘casual’ or ‘casual plus’ contacts related to this potential new cluster.

“Even more telling was his refusal to accept any responsibility for the events at Middlemore Hospital, hanging hard working, over-stretched staff out to dry. I have heard from staff at the hospital and they are doing their best in incredibly challenging circumstances.

“Minister Little needs to own the Middlemore Hospital situation as another consequence of his completely inappropriate health system restructuring.

“As Treasury documents show, health restructuring was the top ‘priority’ in this year’s funding budget and accounts for a lot of why the health system is under-prepared, under-resourced, and under-staffed today.

“Andrew Little needs to tell New Zealanders how many total contacts there are in the Middlemore outbreak.”