Officials were in touch with all passengers on the flight and alerted overseas counterparts for the other flights, said Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health. The man wore a mask on all flights, and was now in a quarantine facility in Auckland, Bloomfield said.
He came as police said six people fled from segregation management, after being released from Covid-19 quarantine to attend a funeral in the city of Hamilton. And TVNZ reported that a birthday party for a little girl in isolation brought together people who shouldn’t have been involved.
Bloomfield was forced to apologize on Thursday after initially claiming the sisters behind Tuesday’s new case had not contacted all during their road trip from Wellington to Auckland. It was revealed late Wednesday that they contacted at least two of his friends, who helped them after they got lost on a highway.
The general manager said neither of the New Zealand women recalled that they were brief physical contact with a person and therefore the public health unit did not feel the need for the report. “When I found out, I followed up,” Bloomfield said. “Yes, the situation has changed, and I have been open about it.”
“The case of these two women has turned the world upside down, I’m certainly upset by it,” he said. “I apologize that we ended up in this position.”
Bloomfield wanted to assure the New Zealanders that they could trust what he said. The woman’s friends have been tested, he added, and one has returned a negative result and the other is pending.
On Tuesday, New Zealand recorded its first case of the virus for 24 days after the two New Zealanders, the sisters returning after a trip to the UK, were found to be infected. The couple, who were allowed out of solitary confinement early to visit a dying relative, had not been tested.
Since then more reports have emerged. A Christchurch funeral director told Stuff that 10 people had been let out of quarantine early to attend one of the funerals he had organized on Tuesday. Steve Parkyn, chief executive officer of funeral directors of the Lamb and Hayward, said he refused to attend the service after being contacted by health officials, but they joined the funeral procession at the funeral, accompanied by a health official. About 200 people attended the funeral.
Government policy is for everyone within 14 days run isolation to be tested twice for Covid-19 and return a negative result before leaving. However, exemptions on humanitarian grounds have been allowed.
Officials are tracing 313 “close contacts” – instead of the previously mentioned 320 – the first two cases, which include hotel workers, customers, health staff and crew.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the military to audit and supervise the quarantine of the arrangements.
Opposition health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said health minister David Clark should step down to be “completely disengaged from his role.”
“If I were the minister, this would not have happened,” Woodhouse said.
The shortcomings have forced us to rethink for certain “bubble” travel projects. Samoa said it would revise its plan to reopen displacement corridors. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the news had disrupted the plan to bring seasonal workers home from New Zealand. He said, “a lot of seasonal workers who want to go home. Another thing, those who run these groups of seasonal workers who are overseas are constantly asking [the government act] on this subject.”
Winston Peters, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that a potential cross-Tasman bubble trip had not been endangered despite the shortcomings, because he still deals with two “Covid-safe member states”.