Likelihood of new Covid-19
cases in New Zealand ‘very,
very high’ – Jacinda Ardern
22 June, 2020
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there will be more Covid-19 cases in New Zealand’s isolation facilities as the number of people returning home ramps up.
However, she told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning there’s an obligation to let New Zealand citizens return to our shores. We can’t just close off the borders to them, she said.
“One of the reasons we will keep seeing more cases is because we have had a doubling of the number of people in the last month coming back to New Zealand – so 4200 currently in facilities. That is twice what we had a month ago and we are seeing travel able to be undertaken from higher risk countries.
“We do have to let New Zealand citizens come home. There might be some who say, ‘Shut the border, let no one in.’ We do have an obligation to allow people who are citizens of New Zealand to be able to come to New Zealand – otherwise, you run the risk of leaving people without a legal place to live and we can’t do that.
“Instead, of course, what we do is make sure we quarantine them appropriately.”
After two new cases in New Zealand yesterday, the national total of confirmed and probable cases of the virus in New Zealand is 1511.
Of those cases, there are seven active cases – all but two have been in managed isolation since they arrived in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s death toll since the pandemic began remains at 22.
There is currently no known community transmission of the virus in New Zealand, but Ms Ardern reiterated the likelihood of more cases coming into the country from those returning home is “very, very high”.
“We have over 20,000 people who have all been quarantined to make sure that we all retain that status of keeping it out of our communities and keeping it within those facilities.”
Last week, when two women from the UK were let out of isolation early to see a dying family member without being tested for the virus, Ms Ardern said there was “quite decisive action taken as soon as that was brought to our attention”.
“That should never have happened, it was wrong. It was completely against the protocols that existed around compassionate leave, which were that you had to be in a facility for six to seven days and you had to have a test before you could be considered for that compassionate leave. So that should never have happened,” she said.
“Since then, we have doubled the Defence Force staffing across our facilities. We’ve put in Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who is in charge now, of the facilities end-to-end – not just logistics but including issues around compassionate leave and the testing regime.”