26 Sep 2023
The Government’s lack of planning for a Covid-19 Delta outbreak is starkly illustrated by the fact that it is not mentioned even once in its two most recent Covid-19 plans, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“The Government’s Aotearoa New Zealand Covid-19 Testing Plan and the Aotearoa New Zealand Covid-19 Surveillance Strategy were both updated in August 2021 but the word ‘Delta’ isn’t mentioned once.
“Frankly, this is incompetent. Delta was first identified as a Covid-19 variant in December 2020. It has been in our MIQ facilities since early April. By August, 93 per cent of all cases in the United States were the Delta strain.
“Across the ditch in NSW, the Delta outbreak started in June and should have been a warning to New Zealand about the risks of an outbreak here in New Zealand to get prepared.
“We had our own narrow escape when a Covid-19-positive Australian tourist came to Wellington with the Delta strain.
“Instead, in August, the New Zealand Government published strategies which don’t even mention the strain nor the way in which it has ‘changed the game’ as the Prime Minister says.
“We have heard countless times throughout this outbreak that Delta is uniquely fast spreading and more transmissible. However, the Government doesn’t seem to have taken its own words seriously as we now know there are no plans to address the unique strain.
“This helps explain why saliva testing has been so slow to roll-out, why rapid Covid-19 tests are effectively banned in New Zealand, why infection control audits in light of Delta have only just kicked-off now, and why contract tracing has not scaled up quickly enough.”