Ashley Bloomfield defends MIQ failings, saying Covid-19 border control 'not straight forward'

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is defending New Zealand's Covid-19 border controls, saying "it's not straight forward", after a report yesterday revealed failings.

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The Director-General of Health says even with the best measures, the virus can "leak through". Source: Breakfast

The report confirmed that a worker had gone months without being tested for the coronavirus, a breach in travel for MIQ returnees and ventilation issues.

However, Bloomfield this morning told Breakfast that even with strict measures in place there would always be opportunities for the virus to slip through the cracks.

"We've got very similar arrangements at the border to Australia and what we've seen there, even since we've started quarantine-free travel six or seven weeks ago, we've seen a number of incursions at the border there — two in Western Australia, one in New South Wales and now, of course, this much more substantial one in Melbourne," he said.

"We've seen in Taiwan recently just from one individual a few weeks ago at the airport they've now got a really significant outbreak.

"So it's not straight forward.

"Even with the very best measures, we know that there is always the opportunity for this virus to leak through and that's why we need to maintain our testing here, our really good contact tracing systems and, of course, I need to give a plug for people to just keep using the [NZ Covid Tracer] app to keep a track of where you've been."

Bloomfield also said that nationally New Zealand is ahead of target for vaccinating the population. But when asked about Auckland being behind schedule, he said the city was "behind the target but still proportionately in their population they are definitely pulling their weight".

New Zealanders are just over three per cent vaccinated, with around 10 per cent now eligible to get the jab.

Auckland makes up around 40 per cent of the overall vaccinations given so far — a larger group because most of the managed isolation workforce is in the city.

"Everybody, when it is your turn and you are eligible, please do get vaccinated. That will be critical to us maintaining our current elimination status and also open up options for us for the future," Bloomfield said.