25 Aug 2021

New quarantine facility prepared near Auckland Airport - Hipkins

From Checkpoint, 5:16 pm on 25 August 2021

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Checkpoint two hotels near Auckland Airport are being prepared for one of them to become an extra quarantine facility like the Jet Park.

There are now more than 480 places of interest in the Covid-19 Delta outbreak. There are also more than 20,000 contacts in the cluster.

Today there was a record 62 cases linked to the Delta cluster, and rooms in Auckland's Jet Park Quarantine hotel are fast running out.

Hipkins said the government is preparing other options.

Hipkins said the new quarantine facility will be ready in the next 48 hours.

"We are absolutely working to make sure we can accommodate all those who are currently booked and have vouchers already. We don't want to be in a position where we have to cancel people after they've already secured a spot."

He said there is not a risk of cancelling people at this point. "But that is one of the reasons why we're not releasing more vouchers."

Hipkins said a number of contingencies are being planned for.

"We've got one we would prefer but it's still got a few people in it who are leaving, and we're just preparing another one in the event that the one that we're going to use isn't ready at the time that we need it."

The release of MIQ spots has been paused.

"That's to make sure that we've got enough capacity to cater for domestic positive Covid-19 cases," Hipkins said.

He said when vouchers can be released again will depend on what happens in the next few days in terms of additional positive cases.

Hipkins said they are not releasing more vouchers at the moment because they are working to ensure that those who have already booked vouchers can be accommodated.

He said between one cohort or group of people in managed isolation leaving and the next one arriving the hotel is thoroughly cleaned and the Crowne Plaza is going through that process at the moment.

Hipkins said he is confident the Crowne Plaza will be able to take its next scheduled cohort later this week.

He said the number of MIQ rooms available varies on a daily basis.

"We still have room to accommodate an unexpected event but our ability to do that is narrowing down by the day."

Hipkins said they can cope with the level of daily Covid-19 cases that New Zealand is seeing over the next week or so but if it continues beyond that decisions will need to be made.

He said that may include looking at whether domestic Covid-19 cases should isolate at home rather than in MIQ facilities.

Hipkins said they would only do that if it were safe and there are no easy choices but the government is planning for every eventuality.

Hipkins aware of two vaccination botch-ups

Hipkins said he is aware of two vaccine botch-ups - the one revealed by RNZ where it was discovered five people may have been given saline instead of the vaccine.

"I'm only aware at this point of one other, it was in Christchurch and it involved vaccines for five to six people so that's being investigated."

Hipkins said the Christchurch incident also occurred in July.

He denied that the Ministry of Health or government had been covering up the incidents.

"These things are very thoroughly investigated at the time that they happen and once those investigations are complete we do endeavour to make that information publicly available."

He said an investigation is needed before the information is released so any questions about the incidents can be answered.