The employee of A-Z Collections in Auckland who has become the latest community case of Covid-19 has today issued a legal statement saying she has only today been appointed a translator by the Government.
The lack of a translator, she said, has resulted in a misunderstanding that has led to harassment of herself and her employers.
Yesterday, it was alleged by health officials that she went to work in a customer-facing role at a clothing store after becoming unwell and while awaiting test results. She tried to call in sick to work but came in anyway after a discussion with her manager, health officials said.
Ministry of Health Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said the woman in her 20s became symptomatic on November 9, was tested on November 10 and went to work on November 11, despite being asked to self-isolate.
However, the woman, whose first language is Mandarin, issued a sworn affidavit saying the Government got the information wrong.
"It was reported in the news that I was still asked to go to work by my boss after I became sick - this is false and I was very upset to hear this. I contacted the Government many times begging them to correct the information because I knew the hate and attacks myself and my boss and our families would receive," the statement reads.
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"Today, the 13th of November, after having to ask many times, the Government have finally arranged a Chinese translation service for me to communicate with the tracing team. Once they speak to me again, without the language barrier, I hope that they can restore the truth and the media can report the true story."
The employers of the woman, Bing Wang and Mei Chen, also issued a statement via their lawyer.
A statement from Focus Law on behalf of the woman's employer, A-Z Collections, says there was no communication that the employee (now known as case D) was sick.
"Both the employers and the employee are clear: Before the employee was diagnosed on 12 November 2020, the employer was not told by the employee or by anyone else that she was feeling unwell. She did not call in sick or ask for sick leave," the statement read.
Wang said in his affidavit that prior to yesterday, they did not know the employee was unwell.
“The false media reports that we knew she was feeling unwell, that she asked for sick leave, and that we told her to come to work nonetheless but wear a mask are categorically false,” Wang said.
“Upon seeing these false reports on the afternoon of 12 November, we were shocked. We contacted our employee and she was even more shocked than we were. She had never made the claim to the Ministry of Health that she 'was not allowed sick leave and asked to work whilst sick'. She immediately contacted the Ministry of Health to request clarification on why they were telling the media this untrue information. We now understand that there were miscommunications between our employee and the Ministry of Health,” the statement said.
Co-owner Mei Chen issued the exact same statement as her husband.
It comes as the Minister for Covid Response, Chris Hipkins, said today that the four latest community cases "feel the weight of the entire country on their shoulders at this point".
He said it was the virus that is the problem, "not the people", and that they do not deserve to have blame heaped upon them.
"They need our support," Hipkins said.
"Offer encouragement and not anger. This is not their fault. Be kind, we are all in this together."