“Sixteen days on from the South Island going into lockdown there are still 22 people waiting for a second test,” says ACT Leader David Seymour. 

“So this is our future; 22 people who are isolating, who’ve had a negative day five test can keep a million people locked down. The Government’s response was so unprepared, we have to wait under lockdown until the outbreak would likely have died out anyway.

“What happens to the South Island in these days matters because it is a window into the future of the whole country’s strategy. Can the Government test, trace, and isolate an outbreak faster than it would have died out anyway?

“It is an extraordinary indictment on the Government that what was initially a ‘short, sharp, lockdown’ takes longer than a whole infection cycle. Apparently testing, tracing and isolating actually makes no difference to the restrictions New Zealanders must face in an outbreak.

“On our current strategy, every outbreak will lead to weeks of lockdown because testing and tracing is not up to it. That’s not to mention that the hard border must remain as the rest of the world moves on. 

“It is a dismal future showing the Government has made no effective improvement to its COVID response. 

“The restrictions are costly. Today I’ve heard from a woman who has been going through chemo for cancer and was in remission, but now can’t feel her legs. 

“Her scheduled MRI was cancelled due to lockdown and she couldn’t get an appointment with a specialist, even via zoom, she’s now been admitted into hospital. 

“Fathers in some areas are being asked to leave their new born babies after delivery, sometimes for days on end. 

“Children are missing school and small business owners’ mental health is suffering as they face enormous uncertainty. All because the Government couldn’t prioritise 22 test, 15 of which are now overdue. 

“Arden is not even confident they’ve got every South Island contact after 16 days of tracing. 

“We need assurances from the Government that tracing and testing will happen faster so this won’t happen again- the costs are simply too great. 

“If all known contacts have been traced, isolated and tested - there’s no need for the South Island to be in Level 3.”