PM Jacinda Ardern: 'No, I have not been tested for Covid'; here's why

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Aug 2020, 9:52AM
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)

PM Jacinda Ardern: 'No, I have not been tested for Covid'; here's why

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 10 Aug 2020, 9:52AM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she has not had a Covid test because she hasn't had any symptoms, nor has she been asked to have one.

"None. I haven't had any, Mike, because I haven't had any symptoms or any cause to," Ardern told Mike Hosking today.

Hosking: "You haven't said yes to the test?"

Ardern: "I have never been offered a test and just to be clear when I said 'say yes to the test', that was a request that when people are offered them by their GP, they say yes. We have had reports and surveys that suggest a reasonable portion of people being offered them by their GP because they were unwell... were saying no. To suggest that people should continue to say no was worrying to me."

Hosking: "So the pop-up centres you put in places like Queenstown to check the community spread for people to voluntarily go down, you haven't felt the need to do that and lead the way?"

Ardern: "Those community testing stations were established specifically to make sure we had additional community surveillance as a precautionary measure after we had seen the positive offshore test, in particular. That's why we were targeting those areas. And we continue to keep those pop-up stations in South Auckland in particular because that's the region where we have some of our managed isolation facilities."

Hosking said he had watched her on the campaign trail at the Grey Lynn farmers' market at the weekend and she hadn't been practising social distancing.

"No, and nor do we ask anyone to continue practise social distancing because we are at level 1," she said.

Hosking said he had seen a poster that encouraged social distancing at level 1.

Ardern said at level 1, people had to wash hands, stay home if they were sick, and get advice from Healthline or their GP about being tested. Plus the restrictions at the border continued.

She said she could not comment on the poster, "but we have never been encouraging social distancing at level 1".

"I am happy to clarify for you, Mike. I was frankly a little worried when you started suggesting that people shouldn't take the test the doctor offered to them. We have had 100 days of no community transmission but that doesn't lessen the risk... Vietnam got to 99 days and had an outbreak.

"The reason we are asking people to keep a mask on hand is if we experience a resurgence. It would be false hope to claim that everything is done and dusted."

Ardern still asked people to go into community testing stations.

Asked whether New Zealand went too hard too quickly, Ardern denied that, after being asked about a new report about mortality and productivity.

"Mostly the comparisons are going the other way. Many other places are asking whether they should have done what New Zealand did."

On the possibility of a Cook Islands travel bubble, she said she would be giving an update today. Asked if the bubble was coming, she said "yes" but there were no confirmed dates yet.

Cabinet has been discussing plans to open the border with the popular South Pacific island of Rarotonga and other hotspots like Aitutaki Island with its large lagoon, coral reefs and sandy inlets.

New Zealand's largest airport, Auckland International, says it will be ready to operate a travel bubble with Covid-free Pacific countries by August 17, if given the green-light.

Business groups and some Pacific countries, including the Cook Islands, have been urging the Government to open travel with some parts of the region.

Hosking asked about Helen Clark's suggestion letting more people into the country. Ardern said she was asking what more the country could do with border controls.

She said there still had to be health checks conducted by health authorities, with swabbing carried out twice. A critical difference between New Zealand and Victoria was that we've had arrest powers. "I haven't ruled it out but there are still things that would need to be required."

When asked about rumours the fourth pot at Tiwai Point, which had just closed, was reopening, Ardern said she didn't know. "It's not a matter whether Tiwai is going to close or open, what's being debated at the moment is how long they're going to phase out. .. they're in negotiations with Meridian."

When asked whether the Reserve Bank would ease its QE - quantative easing - Ardern said she didn't speculate on that.

When asked about Ihumātao and whether that would be dealt with before the election, Ardern said: "Obviously with Parliament being risen that does put things a bit on the back burner for now."