It’s become very clear since the Level 4 countrywide lockdown started that the Government has done absolutely no planning around how testing would be scaled-up and vaccination would continue under lockdown, National’s Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“We’ve been in this situation before and the threat of Delta has been on the horizon for months, yet the Government has clearly done basically nothing to plan for these obvious issues.
“There are numerous stories of people being in a location of interest being told to go and get tested, lining up for hours, only to miss out. There is clearly no system of prioritising people told to get a test over and above others.
“Why are we not making use of saliva testing, which could be done on a mass scale around Auckland? A year ago Sir Brian Roche and Heather Simpson said it should be rolled out as a matter of urgency, but it is still yet to start up.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday evening that vaccinations would be paused for 48 hours, only to reverse it the next day and announce a restart, has also caused chaos.
“There was general astonishment when the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that vaccinations would immediately pause – at a time of community transmission it is more important than ever to continue vaccinating people as quickly as possible.
“My understanding is that after the Prime Minister’s announcement about 60,000 text messages were sent out cancelling appointments for this week.
“However, the automated booking system has still been sending text message reminders to people about their booked appointment, causing mass confusion and many calls to the Government’s booking line.
“Now that vaccinations are back on, people are being re-booked – in some cases for weeks after their original appointment. Some second doses have also been delayed.
“None of this vaccination chaos would have been necessary if the Government had done some proper planning.
“As far back as May this year, the Auditor-General warned that ‘contingency plans to enable the immunisation programme to respond in the event of community transmission’ should be ‘progressed with urgency’. But no real plans appear to have been devised or implemented.”
In response to a question before the Health committee, Auditor-General staff said that ‘We only saw probably quite limited planning discussions being had about different contingencies, but we didn’t see any detailed plans or planning’.
“The Government has belatedly realised the threat of Delta in recent weeks but appears to have done little to nothing to scale-up our response.
“It is imperative we vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as possible. New Zealand is currently the slowest in the OECD and as National has said for a number of weeks now, we are sitting ducks for the Delta variant.”
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