Epidemiologist Michael Baker has called the woman at the centre of the latest community case of Covid-19 a “hero” as he urges the Government to take more measures in tightening New Zealand’s border.
The latest case, a 56-year-old Northland woman, left managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland on January 13, but tested positive for the virus last night after being symptomatic since January 15, according to the Ministry of Health.
The woman had travelled for four months around Spain and the Netherlands late last year and returned to Auckland on December 30 to complete her 14 day stay in isolation where she returned two negative results.
The Government has not announced any alert level changes but says the case continues to be investigated. The woman is isolating at her home, and her condition is being managed by the local DHB.
Speaking to 1 NEWS following a media briefing with Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins along with the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield today, Baker said the latest case is a “wake up call for New Zealand”.
"Given the timing, it's most likely she was infected in the MIQ facility," he said.
Baker said the number of people arriving into MIQ was increasing and the more infectious UK variant was starting to become dominant.
"That's a double risk for New Zealand," said Baker.
Baker said the woman was "almost certainly blameless" and "it's the pressure we are now putting on our system by having lots more infected people in these facilities with more infectious variants."
He said it was a "huge threat to New Zealand" and dubbed the woman at the centre of the case, a hero.
“I’d say look she’s a hero in this situation, she’s done everything right,” Baker said.
“And in fact, when we have failures in New Zealand, it’s very rarely the traveller or the infected person who’s responsible.
“It’s system failures,” he said.
Baker is calling for the Government to tighten up the border following the announcement of the latest case.
“We have to learn from the mistakes of the past. The virus is changing, it’s far more dangerous now because its more infectious,” he said.
“We have to up our defences accordingly to manage this virus...We need to take a major systematic review of how we are managing this threat.
“It needs to extend throughout the whole system, but I think we do need to look at urgent action, not focusing on the five million people in New Zealand but the people getting on flights everyday where the pandemic is out of control."