Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is facing criticism over the return of the coronavirus in New Zealand. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Two weeks ago New Zealand declared it was virus-free. Now PM Jacinda Ardern is under increasing pressure after an increase in cases.

JUNE 22, 20202:33PM

Two weeks ago Jacinda Ardern declared her country coronavirus free.

Now New Zealand has nine cases – all from managed hotel quarantine.

The Prime Minister is facing increasing pressure over the virus’s return, after two British travellers left their Auckland hotel to drive to Wellington without being tested last week.

The women were allowed to leave on the basis they would be tested in the capital, with those test results returning positive. However, new protocols to prevent this from happening again were swiftly out into place.

Ms Ardern slammed the border bungle as “totally unacceptable” and admitted a “process failure”, announcing an even stricter crackdown on border control and quarantine measures.

New Zealand maintained strict border controls were in place, meaning people who aren’t citizens or essential workers are not allowed in unless they had exceptional circumstances.

But now Ms Ardern is facing further criticism, with several more virus cases being confirmed.

Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking fired off at Ms Ardern this morning, asking why the country was still seeing cases of people being in quarantine and not being tested.

Ms Ardern could not say how many people had left hotels untested, before protocols were tightened last week. She said the Ministry of Health was still working through the number.

Hosking said Ms Ardern had a “major credibility issue” around what she said and what actually happened.

“I am going to dispute that Mike,” she responded.

“We are not the only country who are putting in place protocols like this. Many other countries, however, just allow people to self-isolate at home.”

Hosking said that had nothing to do with anything.

“We have our own program to run. What you are telling us happens doesn’t happen – we found that out last week,” he said.

 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is facing criticism over the return of the coronavirus in New Zealand. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is facing criticism over the return of the coronavirus in New Zealand. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

 

Ms Ardern said she accepted that what happened last week was not in accordance with the very strict protocol that was put in place.

“Health will not argue that, I will not argue that,” she said.

“It is why we have put in place someone completely new to oversee testing, the entire process and exit criteria – and that is Air Commodore Webb from the Defence Force.”

The argument became even more heated when Ms Ardern said more than 20,000 people had been through quarantine and there was not one case where someone had passed the virus on to anyone outside of quarantine.

Hosking said officials did not know that because people left hotels untested.

“I have made my point – you continue to make yours,” Ms Ardern said.

The latest two were travellers in hotel isolation after arriving from Islamabad and India.

They were both tested on day three of their isolation stay.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said part of the reason people were being found to have the virus now was because a lot more testing was being done.

Dr Bloomfield said questions were being asked about what was happening when it came to screening people before they boarded flights.

Over the next couple of days, some 900 people will be arriving New Zealand from overseas.

The New Zealand Herald reports there is another unconfirmed case at an Auckland hotel, with guests there saying they were put into lockdown.

Comment:

Go figure……Can anyone explain the point of having people in quarantine, if you are going to let  these ‘probable’ cases wander around, then after a few days get around to testing them? These cases are obviously coming in from overseas, without strict protocol.

Another debacle. Keep them in quarantine, test them or close the borders. …Simple

 


Qantas has cancelled all international flights until late October, except to New Zealand.