Hipkins says it's 'premature' to link Covid-19 cluster to borders, 'no evidence' to back up Peters' claims

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says it is “premature” to say Covid-19 has slipped through New Zealand’s borders or through quarantine and managed isolation facilities.

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The Health Minister says patient zero is still yet to be identified. Source: Breakfast

It follows comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters to Australian media yesterday, about the initial virus cluster being linked to some kind of quarantine breach.

The Health Minister told TVNZ1’s Breakfast there is “no evidence” to support the claim, and said the defences in managed isolation and quarantine facilities are “very, very strong”.

“These facilities are supervised 24/7 and every opportunity we’ve had to tighten up the arrangements around managed isolation and quarantine we’ve been doing that.

“People talking about the border, even that’s premature at this point, we simply do not have enough information to make even an educated guess about where this may have come from,” said Mr Hipkins.

Winston Peters claims current Auckland Covid-19 cluster could be linked to quarantine breach

Mr Peters yesterday told an Australian media outlet that he had been given information to say there was a link between the Auckland Covid-19 cluster and New Zealand’s quarantine system.

He told ABC it “wasn’t official” information, but that he had been informed by a New Zealand journalist that was “usually very reliable.”

This morning Mr Hipkins said there was “no evidence to back up that claim”.

“Look there’s a lot of speculation on there what I can say is that when we do our 1pm daily briefings we make sure that everything that goes out is absolutely backed up by facts and evidence so if people are looking for an authoritative source of truth, that’s it.”

He said the Government is taking every possible step it can to stop any future spread, including testing quarantine and managed isolation facility staff - originally tests would only be required for those who had related symptoms.  

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Auckland’s currently sitting in Level 3 with the rest of NZ in Level 2. Source: Breakfast

"Everybody working at the border and everybody working in a managed isolation or a quarantine facility should be tested. That testing was well underway yesterday. 

"It's clear that there was some reluctance on the part of people to do this test ... this is no longer a choice for all of these people they will all be tested." 

The Health Minister also said there were no new Covid-19 cases to report this morning, ahead of the 1pm briefing.