Prisoner with Covid bailed outside Auckland 'very troubling' - Bishop

Source: 1News

The case of the prisoner who was allowed to be remanded on bail outside locked down Auckland is "very troubling", National's Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

His comments come after the man tested positive for Covid-19 and passed the virus on to three household contacts, including two children, in a small north Waikato town.

Hundreds of tests from around Mangatangi and Whakatīwai - which has been put into lockdown since the exposure - are expected back on Tuesday.

But concern, including from Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson , has been raised about how and why the prisoner was allowed to leave Alert Level 4 in Auckland to return to Waikato, which was at Level 2.

"Very troubling obviously that he was allowed to go to a place outside the alert level boundary in Auckland, and I think a lot of people raised their eyebrows about that, including one of the mayors down there, and I understand that," Bishop told Breakfast on Tuesday.

"It's got to be possible to make sure that people get remanded inside their alert level, I would have thought."

Police patrol a Covid-19 checkpoint at the intersections of East Coast Road and Miranda Road in rural north Waikato.

Under the public health orders, the court was allowed to send the prisoner into a Level 2 area.

But Bishop said National would support changing that order so similar incidents don't happen again.

"I think we would support change in that so that people in all possible circumstances, or as much as possible, are remanded or bailed to the alert level they have come from to just avoid that spread," he said.

"Now, you're not talking about a massive amount of people but it only takes one case as we've seen with Delta, just one person who somehow picked it up.

"Just one case and now this area of Waikato is essentially under Alert Level 4 lockdown, and hopefully that will lift soon."

Bishop also said in this case the prisoner should have been given a rapid Covid-19 test before leaving Auckland or just after crossing the boundary into Waikato.

"We should really be using rapid testing much more than we are," he said.

"The Government's imported 100,000 for a trial, you know, again, if we'd done that a year ago and we now had them widely deployed in the country that would be a really good thing I think."