The huge Government stuff-up over Covid testing

Jason Wells writes:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is quite rightly “incredibly angry” at her officials for pushing out incorrect Covid-19 testing information.

But New Zealanders have every right to be incredibly angry at the Government for letting that official message remain unchanged for almost an entire day.

That message was that everyone in South and West Auckland should get a Covid-19 test – even if they are asymptomatic.

t was posted from the Government’s official Covid-19 social media channels and led to queues of people in the area looking to get a Covid test.

That means that people with legitimate Covid symptoms faced a much, much longer wait as likely thousands of people scrambled to get tested.

The fact that the stuff-up occurred in the first instance beggars belief.

The information affected roughly 700,000 people in South and West Auckland.

This is a systems failure, not a human failure.

Anything that goes out on the official Covid-19 account should be triple checked. It should be impossible that an instruction for 700,000 people to go get tested should be an error.

The incorrect post went up at roughly 5pm last night; it was reported on by most major news sites and made it to some Sunday newspapers as well.

Despite this, no formal correction notice was issued until the next day, according to Ardern.

And by formal correction notice, Ardern meant the All of Government communications team – the people in charge of the post – had notified newsrooms across the country, telling them the information was wrong.

The Herald, which ran the story that the Government was advising all people in South and West Auckland, received no such notice.

This is despite reporters seeking comment on the post.

In fact, Health Minister Chris Hipkins was interview by MediaWorks radio this morning and made no mention of the fact this critical bit of information was wrong.

Ardern revealed the information was incorrect at her 1pm press conference this afternoon.
Even then, she waited to be asked about the post rather than issuing the correction in her opening statement – a statement watched by hundreds of thousands of people each day.
Ardern said she had made it clear to the officials involved that they needed to fix the error.

Despite this, the post remained on the Unite Against Covid-19 Instagram page until almost 1.30pm.

So the incorrect information didn’t stay up for 10 minutes or 20 minutes or even two hours but for around 20 hours.

That is simply huge incompetence. How could those who knew this was wrong not have immediately arranged a high profile retraction?

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