Jacinda and Ashley implied that a new covid case was detected yesterday and they immediately went to Auckland level 3 by midnight the same day. She then went on to say that going “hard and early” was best for “the team” and the self congratulatory comment that “hard and early” had served us well in the past.
But this narrative does not fit with the facts. From mainstream media and the Covid 19 website the facts appear to be that:
- The case missed the required test for border workers on 1 Feb being 14 days after her last test on 18 Jan. There are rumoured excuses about being on holiday but the law does not provide for any exemption or delay to the test, its 14 days max
- She was at work on the 5th feb and apparently still not tested after 18 days. The Herald reports that she was tested on the 5th Feb however this is contradicted by Health officials and Jacinda who state that her last test was 18th Jan
- She travelled to New Plymouth on the 6th feb
- She had symptoms on Thurs 11 Feb and was apparently tested on Saturday 13 Feb (some 26 days after her previous test on 18 Jan)
- She visited the Ranfurly Skinny Superette from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Sat 13 Feb. Ashley was asked whether that visit was after she was tested and he fudged an answer which implied that she had not. Does that mean she was tested after 6.30pm Sat? And the result came back later on Saturday? Is this even possible? is testing available after 6.30pm? If so, where was she tested? and how was the result available within a few hours? Or were we misled, was she in fact tested earlier on Sat? or even on Friday which Ashley first stated and then “corrected” to Sat? In which case she did visit various places after testing. This is essentially the question Ashley was asked and his answer has mislead us.
- The questions in the previous paragraph need to be answered properly if people are meant to believe that Jacinda, Ashley and the Covid 19 website are the source of all truth. If the above questions are not answered we are being fed a false version of facts and this leads to suspicion and other sources of information which may be less than accurate.
As with all other outbreaks, it seems that a failure of the Government controlled border is the most likely cause but the Government is deflecting responsibility and confusing the facts.
We were promised that border staff would be tested at least every 2 weeks. Not only is this not happening but there seems to be no review process to ensure compliance. The only reason officials seem to be aware that the 2 week tests are not being done is because of a positive case. Given the financial loss to the country (of lockdown) and the potential deaths the incompetence of officials not enforcing this rule is extreme.
It has been implied that her 2 weekly testing was voluntary rather than compulsory on the basis that she was not in contact with overseas passengers. This highlights the complicated, confusing and unclear legal framework. However Jacinda did attempt to re assure the public that this type of employee ought to be tested every 2 weeks and she put the blame for it not happening on the employer. This is not a correct interpretation of the Covid 19 PHR (required testing) order. The order only requires employers to keep a record of employees testing, they have no authority to require an employee to be tested. Nor can they prohibit an untested employee from working. The order puts the onus on the employee to be tested and enforcement for that happening is the Governments role. Interestingly the penalty for an employee failing to comply with the order is a mere $300 fine. If border workers are not being tested within the required 14 days it is the role of Government both to monitor it and to enforce it. The Government has failed to do this and is again implying that it is someone else’s fault.
Jacinda stated that it would not have made any difference if she had been tested on the 1 Feb. This is not true. If the law had been complied with she most probably would have tested prior to her last day at work which may have been the 27 Jan. In which case she would have been tested again on or before the 10 feb which would most likely have detected the case earlier and avoided lockdown.
Instead of long self congratulatory media conferences we need simple facts. Where appropriate an admission of shortcomings and a commitment to improve.
Far from “Hard and early”, the border testing is soft, ineffective and poorly monitored and this has resulted in a delay in identifying cases with the financial and health consequences we now face.
Anyway, Billy the Goat is banished back to his rocky crag, more likely to fall off the cliff than catch Covid