'This doesn't have to be political' - Ardern chastises Bridges as he accuses Govt of rationing coronavirus tests

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told National Party leader Simon Bridges "this doesn't have to be political" after he accused the Government of rationing coronavirus tests in Parliament today.

Mr Bridges says around half a dozen doctors have contacted him over the last 24 hours expressing frustration they can't test people with symptoms unless they meet strict criteria laid out by the Ministry of Health.

The Prime Minister rejected the claim, saying there were 620 Covid-19 tests carried out yesterday and clinicians have been told the decision to test a patient ultimately lies with them.

"But what we don't want to do for doctors is create a pressure environment, where regardless of their symptoms having any likelihood of even being Covid-19, demand a test when there isn't a need for one," she said.

At one point in the exchange Mr Bridges suggested the Government was rationing tests and potentially missing cases of Covid -19.

Ms Ardern denied this and at one point stated: "My final plea is to the member to think about the audience he is speaking to right now. This doesn't have to be political."

Mr Bridges responded: "Does she accept that it is my constitutional duty to ask her questions and try and get answers on the most significant issue this country has faced in many, many, years?"

But Ms Ardern continued to disagree about the way he went about it. 

"I have been in that seat and I know the difference between political and responsible," she said. 

The exchange came as a further eight cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in New Zealand today, taking the tally to 20 cases overall.