Labour has dropped the MIQ ball

Reports today that Wellington's Covid-19 cases are being allowed to exercise in an underground car park are a further illustration that the Government has not moved quickly or robustly enough in response to the Delta variant of Covid-19, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s reminiscent of the public walkway right next to the MIQ exercise area at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland.

“As public health experts have noted, it doesn’t pass the ‘smell’ test – just like the Crowne Plaza walkway doesn’t.

“The Government has not moved quickly enough to make improvements to MIQ in light of the delta variant of Covid-19.

“The Crowne Plaza walkway issue was only fixed after community transmission started from the Sydney returnee staying at the Crowne, and amazingly, the Crowne passed all of its infection control audits, with the most recent in June.

“The Government says it is doing a review and audit of MIQ facilities in light of the Delta variant. Why wasn’t this done months ago? Delta has been in MIQ since early April. We’ve had five months of a potentially lax practice and systems in our MIQ hotels.

“Public health experts, and National, said for months New Zealand was a sitting duck for Delta. It’s increasingly clear the Government ignored this and as a result has done little or inadequate planning.

“It took the Government six days to get more public service workers onto contact tracing; repeated expert reviews of contact tracing have been largely ignored; people have waited hours upon hours for Covid-19 tests; no use has been made of saliva or rapid antigen tests; and about 50 to 60 people are still awaiting transfer to quarantine.

“Behind all the numbers at the 1pm press conference each day is a government that has failed to vaccinate enough people, failed to take the right steps to protect New Zealand from Delta, and failed to be ready when it did arrive.”