More MIQ rooms being added for families with Covid-19: PM

Source: 1News

The Prime Minister has played down concerns over delays transporting families with positive Covid-19 cases to managed isolation facilities, saying more rooms are being made available.

Jacinda Ardern was asked at Friday's Covid-19 briefing about reports families are struggling to self-isolate while they wait to get into quarantine and whether it was a risk to the wider community having them wait for space.

The Prime Minister said the risk to the wider community was minimal.

"We have 274 rooms designated for quarantine across the country, 285 rooms available for close contacts also and we do still have available rooms and we're bringing on more than 200 as of this afternoon as well," Ardern said.

"The delay is not because of the capacity, it's because we're using a specialist team who are transporting them and as you can imagine, transporting positive Covid-19 cases needs to be done very carefully.

"We have people trained for that and we've used them in our existing network for transporting people from managed isolation facilities to Jet Park and we're using that same team.

"So because we're getting so many new contacts in a day, sometimes it's taking a bit of time into a facility."

Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield speak at a press conference

Ardern said while she understands the delay for some families can be frustrating, especially for larger families, the need to self-isolate until a move to managed isolation in this Delta outbreak is clear.

"So the very unfortunate piece of information that has been provided to me is that family members are giving it to one another when they're asymptomatic.

"So in some cases, before they even know they have Covid, they've already passed it on to their family so I don't believe it's posing any greater risk than has already been posed over the days prior.

"Those families know, of course, from the point that they're tested that they're not able to leave their homes so I don't think it poses any further risk to the wider community and our families have been really good at following the guidance."

The Prime Minister added a key reason for moving families to MIQ facilities was to provide them with healthcare as well as some cases in this outbreak have led people to become "quite unwell".

She said delays for families across the country shouldn't be an issue going forward either.

"There's no issues outside of Auckland but in Auckland we have had to bring on extra facilities - one for contacts and one that has an additional 200 rooms and we've done that today," Ardern said.

"We'll keep monitoring it but our view is where we can provide families with healthcare, meeting people's welfare needs, access to other providers in a one-stop shop, that is the best we can do for families right now."

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield added large families are being given priority for transport currently.

"Sometimes the family groups are quite large and so it's harder to [transport them] so those are the families that are prioritised," Bloomfield said.

"Also, very early on, the first discussion is to make sure any welfare or other needs that they may have are being met."