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Only half of known contacts tested

“When asked today what the Government has done to protect New Zealanders against Delta, COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins fell back on N95 masks for MIQ workers,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“In an appearance that showed Hipkins was unlikely ever a boy scout, the motto “always be prepared” certainly doesn't apply to his response to Delta.

“N95 masks were the gold standard 18 months ago. That Chris Hipkins uses them as an example of Delta-ready innovation is a sad measure of what the Government’s been doing for 18 months.

“Hipkins admitted that just over half of the 15,741 known contacts have been traced. These people should be the top priority for testing. For close plus contacts (a term the continuous improvement group asked the Government not to use in its review of the February outbreak), only 51 per cent of 369 have returned a test.

“What’s more, this information had to be painfully extracted like a gnarly wisdom tooth. Why can’t the Ministry of Health simply share its information? The best the Minister could say is that they’ve undertaken to talk about it further.

“He also admitted that there are no plans for New Zealanders to have booster shots, despite the science clearly showing that the effect of Pfizer wanes and a booster is needed.

“Hipkins says there are concerns about the timing of shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the Janssen vaccine in New Zealand this year despite it being approved by Medsafe seven weeks ago. Why weren’t the negotiations done earlier?

“When I asked him three weeks ago what tangible changes the Government had made to prepare for Delta, he couldn’t name one. Today he said there were now N95 masks for people working in MIQ.

“It’s astonishing that this was the Government’s one big idea.

“It’s time for the Government to wake up from its slumber and start taking this seriously. If it needs ideas on the practical steps it should take, it should check out our COVID 2.0 paper published in March.”

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