A Gold Coast-based Kiwi who went on a 60-hour hunger strike in MIQ in order to see his terminally ill father says he “won” after being released to do home isolation.
By Pierre Nixon
In July of last year, Kurt Lehndorf received a heart-breaking call from his dad, Des, who told him he had leukaemia.
Now, after 60 hours of no eating or drinking in his Auckland MIQ hotel room, Lehndorf will finally be able to be with his terminally ill father.
Lehndorf, who is a Kiwi living on the Gold Coast, last saw his father in July.
After receiving news of the diagnosis he planned to fly back and forth from Australia but then the Delta outbreak hit and the borders shut.
Lehndorf was unable to qualify for an emergency MIQ exemption to visit his father because the situation wasn’t considered terminal.
Seven months later, Lehndorf received another call, this time informing him that his dad’s chemotherapy treatment wasn't working and had to be stopped.
Lehndorf knew at this stage that his father’s condition was only getting worse so he quickly applied for an emergency MIQ application.
After what Lehndorf described as ‘jumping through the hoops', he was able to secure an MIQ spot and arrived in New Zealand on February 2nd.
Upon his arrival, it was evident from medical advice, that his father’s health was rapidly deteriorating so he applied for a quarantine exemption.
Lehndorf says he provided all the information required, including proof of his vaccine status, acceptance to have his father’s household become his bubble and medically approved information about his father’s deteriorating health.
At first, Lehndorf received a response from the MIQ Isolation Exemptions Team, which stated the team needed more information in order to grant a temporary visit.
It was then on Friday at 5pm, Kurt told 1News he would begin a hunger strike until he was allowed to see his father.
Lehndorf said the strike was his “only hope” of potentially speeding up his request to be released early and self-isolate at his father’s home.
After over 60 hours of not eating or drinking, at 11.20 am on Monday morning, Lehndorf was approved by MIQ authorities to self-isolate with his terminally ill father.
MIQ confirmed this in a statement to 1News.
“This morning Mr Lehndorf’s exemption from managed isolation application was approved, and he is now able to self-isolate in the community – we are pleased this means he will be able to spend time with his father at this difficult time.”
“A returnee is not eligible to be considered for exemption from managed isolation until they receive a negative day three Covid-19 test. Mr Lehndorf’s negative day three test result was received yesterday evening, Sunday 6 February.
“Supporting information is also required in relation to who else will be at the location of self-isolation and confirmation that they too will self-isolate. Information confirming that others at the location will self-isolate was provided to MIQ by Mr Lehndorf early yesterday evening, Sunday 6 February.”
“Mr Lehndorf has been advised that his exemption application was approved this morning, subject to him receiving a negative Rapid Antigen Test prior to his departure from MIQ, and transport to his place of self-isolation is now being organised.”
Lehndorf is excited by the news and hopes that other Kiwis shouldn’t have to go through the same process as he did.
“We won,” he said. He believes he would not have been released if it were not for media coverage.