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Dr Ayesha Verrall’s report into the Government’s contact tracing regime for Covid-19 paints a very different picture to what is being portrayed in Government press conferences, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Despite Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today describing their contact tracing regime as being good, the report highlights that what the Government has in place is completely lacklustre.

“It shows a system where data collection, reporting and join-up is poor and to this day there is a general lack of timeliness.

“Despite being conducted two weeks into lockdown, the report made no fewer than six ‘urgent’ or ‘critical’ recommendations on how to improve New Zealand’s contact tracing ability.

“As a direct comparison Australia has more than four times the number of contact tracing staff and is able to do end-to-end contact tracing in three days, while in New Zealand it takes more than two days just to instruct a contact to isolate.

“At the time of the audit only 60 per cent of contacts could be easily reached by phone, either because of incorrect contact details or because people choose not to answer calls from an unidentified number. These are the basics.

“Tracing work is split between local Public Health Units and the National Close Contact Service but they’re not even able to see each other’s work.

“Despite the obvious shortcomings in our contract tracing when compared with Australia being highlighted by Opposition members of the Epidemic Response Select Committee on 14 April, the Government waited over a week to release this report because they knew the contents would be damning. They should have fronted up to what wasn’t working and fixed it.

“New Zealanders have sacrificed a lot to give us the best chance of beating this virus. The Government needs to get things like tracing under control to make sure it’s not for nothing.”

Dr Ayesha Verrall’s report can be found here

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