The joint head of MIQ has been left "incredibly disappointed" and apologetic after it was discovered yesterday a worker at an Auckland MIQ facility had not been tested for six months before testing positive for Covid-19 last week.
Last Thursday, the Grand Millennium isolation hotel security guard, known as Case B, tested positive for Covid-19. A third case, a close contact of Case B, tested positive soon afterwards.
MIQ boss Megan Main repeatedly told Breakfast today she was “incredibly disappointed” that the worker was able to slip through the cracks.
“This isn’t what we all go to work to do. We work really hard and right now, I can assure you we’re working really hard to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
Border workers are required to be tested every two weeks, but MIQ has acknowledged its system for keeping track of workers receiving Covid-19 tests was not as robust as it should be.
Main said it’s understood the employee “was advising their employer [First Security] around their status” but “the information that the person gave his employer doesn’t match what’s in the Ministry of Health’s testing register”.
An employment investigation has since been launched to understand how it occurred.
She said under the staff testing order, MIQ workers must be tested on a regular basis, with most requiring fortnightly testing, while others must be tested weekly.
Main added that MIQ must ensure systems are in place for regular testing to occur, but most of the employers “run their own systems to keep track”.
“Each employer will do that slightly differently but it’s up to the employer to keep those records,” the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) deputy secretary said.
Only half of the employers are entering testing results under the Government database, known as the Border Worker Testing Register.
Main said the other employers are keeping track of records but “using different systems”. But that's not expected to last, with employers working at the border required to use the register from April 27.
“We’ll all have the same data. We’ll be able to help employers by giving them additional information, making sure that they’re following up with employees who are behind or haven’t been tested in the required time period,” she said.
“This is really about continuous improvement.”
Main said the “vast majority” of MIQ’s over 4000 workers — 90 per cent — had been tested in the previous 14 days as of two days ago.
Of the remaining 10 per cent, 80 per cent had been tested largely around two or three days out from the window, while around 74 people had scanned in to MIQ sites at some point this week but had not yet been tested.
Letters have since been sent out to the 74 workers involved, inquiring as to whether they need to be tested and to receive one if needed.
“We are at the forefront in the risk of Covid coming into New Zealand. Our workers every day are at the frontline against Covid,” she said. “I’m incredibly proud of the work they’re doing.
“All it takes is one individual to impact this system and dent our confidence and we want New Zealand to be confident in the system.”
She said while 74 have not been tested, the MIQ system is “a dynamic workforce”.
“The 4000 or so people working there today will be different to the 4000 or so working the next week.
“We have the New Zealand Defence Force, which is a huge part of our contribution. They work on rotations so they come and go and on particular days, we’ll have a number of them rotating out. We also have police who rotate through and they’re a critical part of the response as well.
“Because our workforce is dynamic, those numbers are changing all the time and so we might have someone who’s just started and needs to be tested within the next 14 days so it is quite a complex system."