A mariner who has spent 36 days in Covid isolation – more than twice the required time – is begging authorities to release him from MIQ so he can be with his cancer-stricken partner and her children.
Daniel White, a fumigator of tauranga, thought he'd be able to go straight home after the ship he travelled on from China arrived in Wellington on October 16, because time spent at sea can be counted as isolation as long as a negative Covid test is returned.
White had been at sea for 23 days and was symptom-free throughout that time, keeping daily temperature records.
But no-one from local health authorities was available in Wellington to test White and the foreign crew. The ship sailed to New Plymouth and there was no-one available there, either.
White said he was told health staff were too busy giving vaccines on Super Saturday to carry out tests of shipping crews.
Eventually the ship's agent arranged a spot in MIQ for White, and he was bussed to Rotorua, where he was put into isolation at Rydges Hotel.
The rest of the crew left New Zealand with the ship.
White said he had since returned three negative tests.
“If anyone who's waiting overseas for an [MIQ] room, if they knew I was sitting here on day 36 taking a room when I don't need to be here…,” White said. “It's unbelievable I'm here at day 36. You'd think common sense would prevail here.”
What a waste of an MIQ room and shameful he is being kept from his wife who has cancer.
In less than 24 hours, Brad Stephenson has been let out of quarantine in Auckland, driven to Tauranga, driven back to Auckland, only to be officially released from quarantine after a final night in his isolation hotel.
“I did try and push the point when I got this one day release that would it just not make more sense to release me 18 hours early,” he said.
“It makes no sense.”
MBIE is blaming a points system for the situation, saying the formula it has created means he is assessed as high risk despite being double vaccinated and having returned more than four negative tests in 14 days.
A top lawyer says it will take a lot for the courts to intervene, but we might be reaching such a point.
Stephenson arrived in New Zealand from Britain on October 15. He had travelled home to see his 71-year-old dad, Alex, who is fighting liver cancer.
He expected to do the full 14 days in quarantine, but on arrival Alex developed an infection and was given days to live.
But Stephenson's application to leave the Crowne Plaza facility early was declined on the grounds he posed too great a health risk to New Zealand.
This is what you get when you empower the bureaucracy to decide if family members are allowed to see dying relatives. It is inhumane. The risk of a double vaccinated person who has tested negative four times is close to zero. The fact there are over 1,000 people who have actually tested positive to Covi19 isolating at home makes the decision to not give him full early release even more bizarre.