I’ve been contacted by the family of someone who was in the same row as the positive Covid-19 contact on Air NZ flight 457 on Thursday.
They have been given different isolation instructions from every agency they have interacted with. They are so alarmed as the lack of coherent and consistent advice, that they want people to be aware that we still have systematic failures in our Covid-19 response, as we saw with the lack of front line worker testing.
The sequence of events is:
- Contacted my MOH and told the traveller in Row 23 (the same row as the positive person) was a casual contact only and did not need to isolate or even get a Covid-19 test! The traveller works in a restaurant, so if he was positive would be at very high risk of spreading it. They not only said he can go to work but that he can continue flying.
- The employer didn’t want the traveller coming to work without a test so they rang Healthline to ask how they could get a test done
- Healthline advised that he was in fact a close contact not a casual contact so he must self-isolate for 14 days but the rest of the family (who had been with him him for 48 hours) did not need to self-isolate
- Then the MOH put out a press release (according to Stuff) saying everyone who sat within two rows of Row 23 must isolate for 14 days and their families must also isolate until they return a negative test
- They called Healthine again and Healthline said the MOH advice was wrong and the family did not need to isolate or get a test
- They then called Public Health (part of MOH) and a public health nurse said they should all isolate until they get test results
- They were then called by a senior doctor in from Healthline to apologise for the inconsistent advice and he confirmed they should all isolate
- Then they were called back again by the public health nurse and the Healthline doctor and told that they had now classified the traveller as a casual contact due to change of protocol (they were on the other side of the aisle) and none of them need to isolate or get tested!
This is beyond mickey mouse. If someone in the same row as a positive Covid-19 case gets told six different things from different parts of the health system, then something is very wrong.
The family also say that they were never asked any of the following:
- Are you using the Covid-19 app?
- Please wear a mask in public?
- Do you need any PPE?
- Do you live with elderly or high risk people?
- Do you work with food or the public?
- Do you need any assistance?
This mismanagement has been very upsetting to the family, as well as the risk to public health. They have young kids who were told they would have to be isolated from their Dad for 14 days, and were really upset.
I also find it hard to understand why even casual contacts are told they don’t need to get a Covid-19 test. Why on earth don’t they just arrange for all casual contacts to be tested asap?
So again in summary they were told five different things from four different health agencies, all within one day. That shows systematic problems remain with our Covid-19 response.
NB: The family member who gave me this information voted Labour. This is not about politics. It is about concern that the health system is not working as it should.