· Doubling of New Zealand Defence Force staff at managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
· Urgent review of end-to-end protocols and their application at managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
· Immediate suspension of private functions at managed isolation facilities
· Air Commodore Darryn Webb to ensure exit testing protocol is followed
· 105 hotline for public notifications and concerns
The Government has moved to address issues that have emerged this week with managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appointed Air Commodore Darryn Webb as Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine and Megan Woods has been given Ministerial responsibility for Managed Isolation and Quarantine.
“We are determined to ensure that this critical line of defence against COVID-19 is robust and meets the expectations of New Zealanders; that every action we took as a collective five million to stamp out the virus, applies in these facilities,” Megan Woods said.
“We have come too far to lose the precious situation we are in; one of the few countries in the world without community spread of COVID-19 and a relatively open economy and society.
Air Commodore Webb has instigated a range of measures already since coming into the role, including:
· Doubling the number of New Zealand Defence Forces staff in managed isolation facilities from the current 36 to 72.
· Initiating an urgent end-to-end audit of facility protocols and their application, supported by Senior Department of Corrections and NZ Police officials.
· Air Commodore Webb will assume personal oversight of exit testing, ensuring no one leaves a facility without a negative COVID-19 test
· Appointment of Defence Force leads in each facility who will report directly to Air Commodore Webb. Clear expectations on their accountability and responsibilities have been relayed to them.
· Immediate suspension of private functions in managed isolation facilities.
· 105 hotline for public notifications and concerns. This is an existing hotline operated by the All-of-Government COVID-19 team.
Air Commodore Webb says the review is to ensure all protocols at these facilities are fit for purpose.
“I understand that every New Zealander will be concerned by what has eventuated this week, and will want to know as soon as possible that our processes and procedures are adequate. I am committed to ensuring we understand what has happened and fix any shortcomings.
“There is no doubt this is a complex matter, but our managed isolation and quarantine facilities are now the most important part of our collective defence against COVID-19 while we remain in a global pandemic and need to operate safely and within agreed protocols.”
Media contact: Liz Banas 021 805 845