TODAY |

Ardern tells companies with MIQ workers to ensure they get tested for Covid or face 'penalty regime'

Jacinda Ardern has told companies with staff at New Zealand’s borders to ensure they test those workers for Covid-19 or they will face penalties.

The PM made the direct comments after an Auckland border worker was confirmed to have contracted the virus yesterday.

The case was a 24-year-old security guard at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility who had not been vaccinated.

It has prompted a fresh focus on testing for high-risk border workers, especially those employed by private enterprises.

At a press conference today, Ardern reiterated the message that companies covered by the Government’s Testing Order ‘have responsibility’ to ensure employees get tested or else, face a penalty.

Ardern said she was “very reassured” of the Government agencies’ testing regimes where the responsibility fell upon the Government to manage them.

MIQ security guard confirmed as Covid case after second positive test, close contacts test negative

But she said private enterprises whose workforce is covered by a Testing Order, have a “responsibility” to make sure their employees are being tested.

“And the orders are very explicit on that and there is a penalty regime for employers who are not doing that,” Ardern said.

“The obligation by law is that employers make sure their workforce is being tested.”

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the worker is yet to be vaccinated and was reported to having a sore throat several days ago.

He said there's nothing to suggest the man had refused vaccination or couldn't get it but was rather waiting to get the jab.

Bloomfield also shot down suggestions he had "fallen through the cracks".

Hipkins says unvaccinated border workers to be removed from high-risk roles after latest Covid-19 case

He said around 95 per cent of the first priority group, which includes border workers, have been vaccinated.

The PCR test returned high CT values, meaning the case is either at the beginning or end of the infection period or that it’s a historical case.

Ten close contacts of the worker have been identified by the Ministry of Health. All have been contacted and are self-isolating.

Five have already tested negative while the others are awaiting their test results.

Health officials are in the process of conducting interviews to identify locations of interest visited by the positive case. At this stage there are none to report.