4 Nov 2021

Covid-19 positive families waiting up to 36 hours to hear back on isolation

9:17 am on 4 November 2021

Just 294 people with Covid-19 in the current outbreak are in MIQ facilities, says the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

No caption

Of the 2017 active community cases in the country, an MIQ spokesperson said only 294 were in a quarantine facility. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

But there are now 2017 active cases in the community and some of those working with them say the system is struggling to keep up.

About 1000 people with Covid-19 are still waiting to find out if they will self isolate or be moved to quarantine.

Those on the frontline said they're worried some were waiting in homes that were not suitable for self isolation.

Te Whānau o Waipareira kōrure whānau director Iri Mako leads a team helping people who suddenly find themselves diagnosed with Covid-19 and confined to their homes.

"They're really shocked and they're really anxious and worried," she said.

For some the news had come out of the blue, and they had no food stores.

Her team helped them stock up, made sure they had access to more, and checked they had other support that they needed.

Separate teams looked after their medical care if they needed it.

It was a picture that would become more common as cases escalated and the government moved away from the old model of people with Covid-19 staying in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

The Ministry of Health did not provide a comprehensive figure of the number of people at home with Covid-19 now.

Of the 2017 active community cases in the country, an MIQ spokesperson said only 294 were in a quarantine facility.

Officially, the Ministry of Health said it was supporting about 692 people to isolate at home, and another 58 were in hospital.

That left about about 1000 more people unclassified, presumably also at home, waiting to either move to MIQ or to be officially cleared to self isolate.

Te Whānau o Waipareira chief executive John Tamihere said the ministry needed to be straight up about who was at home so that enough support could be given to them.

It was clear the system was under strain, he said.

His teams had dealt with families who waited up to 36 hours after testing positive to hear from health authorities about what to do.

"The fact of the matter is contact tracing has fallen over because of volume," he said.

There was no proper screening to see whether people with Covid-19 could isolate safely within their own homes or should go into MIQ, he said.

The Fono, another group working with Covid-19 positive families, said it was also seeing the strain on the system.

Chief executive Tevita Funaki said there were waits to get into MIQ and some people are waiting 48 hours just to get their positive test results, double the former maximum.

"Because of the infectious nature of this variant, every day is important," he said.

The Fono and Te Whānau o Waipareira are worried some people with Covid-19 are isolating in homes that are too crowded to do that safely.

That was only going to happen more often as case numbers grew, with some experts predicting the daily rates to hit 300 this month.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told Morning Report the 1000 people not yet in the system under any category had been contacted but their status had not yet been recorded in ministry data.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs