Sunday, 6 September 2020

We didn’t go hard and early

“The Government has taken six months to require border-facing workers to be tested, showing we didn’t go hard and early in responding to Covid-19,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Jacinda Ardern says the Government acted quickly after our first case of Covid-19, but New Zealand was the 60th country to get a case. We were given advance warning.

“Despite calls from ACT in January and February to consider closing the border, the Government dithered and then had to implement one of the most severe lockdowns in the world.

“Not only was the Government slow to act, the testing of border-facing staff in particular has been poor.

“The Health Minister said in June there would be ‘asymptomatic testing of all border facing workers’. But it never happened.

“The Prime Minister and the Health Minister said Cabinet just expected the Ministry of Health to test all staff at the border. The Government blamed the Ministry for not testing and border staff for refusing tests.

“But the national testing plan itself says: ‘Screening of all asymptomatic border facing staff…is not thought to be viable.’

“Cabinet signed off on a national testing plan that said testing all border staff wasn’t viable. Either the Prime Minister and her Ministers hadn’t read the plan, or the Government lied to the public.

“The Government’s continued failures show why we need a multi-disciplinary Epidemic Response Unit based on the Taiwanese model to provide a coordinated response to future outbreaks.

“The Ministry of Health doesn’t have the ability to deliver the range of outputs necessary to fight a pandemic.

“An Epidemic Response Unit would bring together the best people from the public and private sectors and would have a transparent relationship with government, which would set policy targets for the Unit.”