“When Cabinet meets on Monday, it should lift the ban on importing Rapid Antigen Testing and allow double vaccinated returnees with a negative pre-departure test to skip the MIQ hunger games and home isolate,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Under questioning this morning, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins admitted it was ‘very disappointing’ that a man infected his own children with COVID-19 while waiting five days for a positive test from the Government. What he didn’t say is that the Government’s ban on rapid antigen tests meant they had no other choice.
“ACT’s COVID 2.0 paper, released in March, said said the Government should ‘Roll out saliva tests and other rapid tests as screening tests more widely as they become available.’
“In June I said in Parliament: “The one that ACT has an objection to is the actual ban on point-of-care tests. It's another theme of this Government's response that it has been, again, very fixated on who delivers the service: Ministry of Health good; everybody else bad, out in the cold. That has held us back as a country. It's made our response to COVID-19 less nimble and less efficient.”
“Unfortunately the Government has maintained the ban on Rapid Antigen Testing, leaving people reliant on a Ministry of Health directed service that is now overloaded. They have since allowed a select group of companies to import them.
“On Monday, the Government should follow the principle of ACT’s COVID 3.0 plan, and say that tests approved in Britain, America, Europe or Australia should be allowed in New Zealand. New Zealanders deserve the best technology available to others around the world.
“Meanwhile, in the same interview, Hipkins said Cabinet would now consider allowing returnees to self-isolate and skip MIQ. Clearly one of two things is happening. Either the Government has a plan, or Cabinet cannot agree on one.
“Grant Robertson boasted on August 12 that the Government had a plan to 'reconnect New Zealanders to the world,' including 'self quarantine.' Did this plan include any scenario where it was brought forward because COVID was in the community?
“Whether Cabined doesn’t have a plan or can’t agree on a plan is irrelevant to New Zealanders trapped offshore. Each week, the hunger games of MIQ queues is a national embarrassment.
“Somebody who’s come from overseas, fully vaccinated with a negative pre departure test is far less likely to have COVID than someone who’s tested positive for COVID. If the Government is allowing people with COVID to home isolate, why not people who need to come home and almost certainly don’t. Cabinet should decide that on Monday.”