Future use of Covid home isolation 'always part of the plan' - Robertson

A home-isolation model for some Covid-19 positive cases could be on the way "fairly soon". 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said on Thursday home isolation "was always part of the plan" and was being worked on by officials for future use. 

"Where we've got asymptomatic people in a vaccinated environment, we have always intended that people would be recovering at home.

"We're now working through the process of what that looks like and how to manage that."

Findings from the home isolation pilot for vaccinated business returnees would also contribute to the model.

"It was always part of the plan as we move further down the track, to be able to ensure those who need care within our heath system get it," Robertson said. He added that in a vaccinated environment, many people with few Covid symptoms would be able to easily isolate at home. 

It comes after Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday that as case numbers increase, "the sustainability of putting everybody who is a positive case into MIQ starts to seriously be drawn into question".

On Thursday there were 71 new Covid cases. 

Hipkins said the Government had been working for some time on a home isolation model for positive cases.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

That was previously how many cases isolated in the first lockdown in 2020. 

"We’ve done this before and we will see that again, and I think that we will see that again fairly soon."

He expected a move to a home-isolation model for positive cases, "rather than converting more and more of our MIQ facilities to cope with domestic cases".

"We will now be looking at other ways of isolating people, and it will be a risk-based framework."

National's Chris Bishop on Thursday said he was supportive of Covid patients isolating at home, "as long as there are appropriate precautions". 

National Party Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop.

"This is something the Government should have been looking at a lot earlier."