A privacy breach of the personal details of 18 Covid-19 patients is providing fodder for those critical of the Government’s handling of quarantine and managed isolation, with National calling the situation “a shambles”.
Just three days into his new role as Health Minister, Chris Hipkins has had to apologise over the breach.
“I unreservedly apologise on behalf of the New Zealand Government. We will find out who had the information who shouldn’t have and who released it in a way they shouldn’t have,” he said this afternoon.
NZME and RNZ reported it had seen a leaked document that included the full names, addresses, ages and names of the hotels and hospital 18 active cases were quarantined in.
The breach followed some recent criticisms of the Government’s Covid-19 response after David Clark resigned as Health Minister and hotels housing the newly-returned neared capacity.
National’s spokesperson for health Michael Woodhouse said the breach “shows this is a shambles”.
“The Minister has to get on top of it and make sure that very important information remains secure.”
Mr Hipkins said he found out about the breach yesterday.
He said he didn’t know at this point whether the breach was deliberate or an error.
“If it was a malicious act, then clearly there will be consequences,” he said.
“If it was accidental, sometimes human error happens here, then obviously we still need to understand that. It’s still not okay.
“The systems should have been robust enough to stop that from happening.”
Mr Hipkins, who is also the State Services Minister, said he ordered an investigation into the breach and brought in the State Services Commission to assist.
He said he would bring in forensics experts if required.
Mr Hipkins said he expected answers soon.