13 Jul 2020

People in managed isolation have access to healthcare - minister Chris Hipkins

1:48 pm on 13 July 2020

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed people in managed isolation facilities have access to mental health support and primary healthcare.

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Hipkins was joined by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield, who revealed there were no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

Hipkins said he had visited a managed isolation facility, the Grand Mercure, this morning. He said he had not spoken to returnees for obvious reasons.

A 19-page booklet was being provided to those arriving to the facilities, he said. They were also able to access mental health support and primary healthcare.

Hipkins said Cabinet would next week be considering the possibility of charging for managed isolation.

"With all of these things we have to do the right thing for New Zealand, and what's right within New Zealand law."

Staffing levels at facilities would change from day to day, as needs changed in facilities, Hipkins said.

"There is a nurse at every facility every day ... staffing levels are managed in each region."


There were 1043 tests processed yesterday, which is expected to increase this week. Hipkins said he still wanted to see the overall number of community testing rise.

"The trend is going back up again ... we did expect to see those numbers coming down."

He said weekends did tend to have lower levels of testing anyway, but the numbers of tests being returned was still below his expectations.

Dr Bloomfield said it was important to be testing the right people.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He said returnees were tested around day three and day 12 after their arrival, with the managed 14 days the mainstay of New Zealand's protection.

Testing of people with respiratory conditions out in the public was also a key part of community-based surveillance and the third group of people being tested are people working either in managed isolation facilities or at the border, he said.

The minister urged the general public to use the government's QR scanner app and diary in order to track where they have been in case it was ever needed.

Dr Bloomfield also urged people to download and use the app.

"It's very important that people do scan the posters, it's easy and very quick," he said.

"There is a significant pandemic still offshore and we need to be absolutely vigilant we take that seriously."

Deportees from Australia

This week 30 New Zealanders will be deported from Australia and will stay in a state-run isolation facility for 14 days upon arrival.

Earlier today, Hipkins told Morning Report the government was against the deportations but Australia is within the law to do it.

"We're receiving them because we're obliged to receive them but it would be wrong to say we're happy about it."

This afternoon, he restated that New Zealand was opposed to how Australia was dealing with deportations.

"Obviously New Zealand is disappointed with the policy overall ... we don't agree with the approach they're taking."

Chris Hipkins has been appointed to the health portfolio after David Clark announced his resignation as minister.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

"Australia has given us an assurance that they won't deport further people before working with us," he said.

The government had been looking at how and where to strengthen security arrangements at managed isolation facilities, he said.

"We're taking a very precautionary approach here."

The deportees, who would be arriving on a chartered flight paid for by the Australian government, would be staying at an undisclosed, dedicated Auckland inner-city hotel with enhanced security attached to it, Hipkins said, with police and military on site.

He said a rigorous psychiatric assessment would be completed before people entered the facilities and in terms of this particular cohort, there had been a very rigorous process adhered to.

Once they finished their isolation period, the deportees would be released into the community.

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