Barry Soper: Latest hotel escaper case rings alarm bells over quarantine system

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 12:10PM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Barry Soper: Latest hotel escaper case rings alarm bells over quarantine system

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Jul 2020, 12:10PM

COMMENT:

There are so many aspects to the latest walker from the so-called secure isolation facilities, established to keep the Government's oft-repeated "team of five million" safe, facilities that will cost the team around $300 million this year, that should ring alarm bells.

Midway through last month, with great fanfare, Jacinda Ardern brought in the big guns to keep her team safe and well away from the nasty virus. Cabinet's energiser Minister Megan Woods was brought in to crack heads and was joined by the top military brass, Air Commodore Digby Webb, with assurances from the Prime Minister that the team was in the best hands.

So take what's happened so far this week, which should have you slapping your palm to your forehead.

Woods has forced down Air New Zealand share prices by telling them not to issue any tickets for the next three weeks to Kiwis wanting to come home. Other airlines are smiling as they wing their way across the Pacific.

Now we have the spectacle of the bloke who was staying, courtesy of the team at the plush Stamford Plaza, going on walkabout to the nearby, busy, inner-city supermarket. He tested positive for Covid-19 the next morning.

Webb and the new, overworked Health Minister, Chris Hipkins, tell us not to worry. The man didn't have close contact with anyone, we're led to believe, and he self-checked out.

That's what we were told with Thelma and Louise who tested positive after getting out of lockdown early without a test and travelling the length of the North Island, having to find directions from some mates on to the motorway out of Auckland.

In the latest trust-me case, the cops didn't tell the supermarket the Covid shopper had been in the store until just before closing time and no one charged with keeping the team safe told the store to close. They did that the next morning on their own volition to clean the place up and before they were told the man had the virus.

It's bad enough the man got out but it's worse that he was lost track of, for much longer than it would have taken him to walk to the supermarket and back.

The Air Commodore says the fence at the hotel was being fixed and the security man on duty thought the man wandering off was part of the construction force.

We are constantly being told keeping people in quarantine is a complex thing to do and we've been reminded since this latest breakout from the Stamford Plaza that the Covid suspects are in hotels, not prisons.

It's a "trust me" system but it has to be remembered that it takes just one person who can't be trusted wandering the streets that can cause Covid chaos. Unfortunately we will have to wait a couple of weeks to know whether that's happened.

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