Staff pleas to be tested were ignored

Newshub reports:

A senior quarantine official has blown the whistle on the border-testing botch-up.

He says claims that staff were reluctant to be tested are not correct – and that workers requested a regular testing programme “multiple times”, but their concerns were ignored.

“They haven’t taken our protection or the wider community’s protection seriously by not having a testing programme,” he tells Newshub.

The worker, who’s been at the airport ten years, says frontline staff requested a regular testing programme “multiple times”, but management declined this.

“Just [got] told it wasn’t available, or they didn’t have the resources to do it,” he says.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says “they should not have been declined tests”.

And Biosecurity New Zealand Northern Regional Commissioner Mike Inglis says they’ve “made sure that we’ve encouraged staff to be tested”.

“At any point if a staff member feels ill they’ve been told to stay at home,” he adds.

And Newshub can reveal that in the past month, at least 18 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff, who interacted with returnees, have been sent from the airport to work in other parts of Auckland and other cities – all without a COVID-19 test.

I can’t say I’m surprised but it illustrates the total disconnect between what Ministers are saying, and the reality on the front line.

Ministers have implied that the problem was some staff didn’t want to be tested, and making it mandatory was a heavy handed step. The reality was staff were pleading to be tested, and the Government was refusing.

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