Thursday, 27 August 2020

Govt contact tracing fails to meet Verrall recommendations

“The Government sat on a report that was critical of its contact tracing efforts for six weeks and then cynically dumped it on the same day New Zealanders were getting closure on our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Contact Tracing Assurance Committee’s report shows the Government’s contact tracing efforts are still failing to meet the standards set by Dr Ayesha Verrall in an earlier report.

“In April, Dr Verrall said the Ministry needed to be able to identify the proportion of close contacts found by app. This latest report confirms that recommendation hasn’t been implemented after the Health Minister said as much in Parliament on Tuesday. We have no way of knowing if the app is effective without this information.

“Dr Verrall also recommended that the Ministry needed to be able to trace the contacts of 1,000 cases a day. As of 14 July, it had the capacity to manage contact tracing for just 289 cases a day. It remains an ‘aspiration’ to trace the contacts of 1,000 cases a day.

“The Ministry was also told to check in on close contacts in home quarantine every day to monitor adherence to isolation and assess symptoms. There’s no indication this is taking place, with the report suggesting that it ‘may be useful for the Minister to receive a report on compliance with the protocols.’

“All in all, there’s little evidence that the Government has managed to improve its contact tracing efforts.

“A Party Vote for ACT is a vote for a smart approach to Covid-19. Our plan is:

• New Zealand Epidemic Response Unit: Based on Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre
• Government as referee, not player: Allow alternative facilities for safe, electronically-monitored isolation, with strict punishment for rule-breakers
• Risk-weighted: Treat different countries and travellers with different levels of caution
• Technology-driven: Such as COVID card, ëlarm, rapid tests, temperature checks and thermal cameras
• Continuous improvement: Constantly compare ourselves with the best and seek to strengthen our resistance.

“If we want to enhance New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing, we must get a lot smarter. A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to tackle Covid-19 intelligently.”