The Health Minister has revealed that when the Government announced a new testing strategy for border workers two months ago, there was no system in place to keep track of how many workers had had a swab for COVID-19.
So they had no way of actually recording which staff had or had not been tested. This is pretty gross incompetence. It should not take too months to set up a database which can track staff and testing.
The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said he didn’t think there had been a failure or that the public had been misled. Hipkins also denied misleading the public.
That’s despite former Health Minister David Clark issuing a press statement on June 23, almost two months ago, announcing a “testing strategy to keep New Zealand safe”.
The strategy was to include “asymptomatic testing of all border-facing workers”.
So no one will take responsibility for the fact that what we were told never ever happened.
Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield continued to reassure the public they had a robust system in place on August 3, when Hipkins stated: “we do have a testing programme in place for all of those people”.
Dr Bloomfield supported the Minister’s claims, saying on August 3 the workers “are all part of a surveillance testing programme”.
And just last week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated testing of border workers was happening “all the way through”.
They all misled us.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, clearly irritated by what had happened, spoke about the issue on Monday, saying it’s not good enough.
“When we ask as a Cabinet for something to happen, we expect it to happen. So of course, that has not met our expectations,” Ardern said.
“No one, of course, said to us at any point, that I recall, that what we asked for was not happening.”
But Dr Bloomfield says he was providing regular updates.
“There’s clearly a dissonance with what the Prime Minister thought was happening, and what was happening on the ground,” he said.
If regular updates were being provided yet Ministers were insisting testing was happening as promised, then the only conclusion I can draw is Ministers either didn’t read or didn’t understand the updates.