Health and social services in Auckland say delays in transferring Covid-19 patients to quarantine are putting families in a tight spot.
Vendors say the delays are partly due to the capacity of the managed quarantine and isolation system. The prime minister admits the delays, but says capacity is not an issue.
The total number of cases related to the current community outbreak is 347. The Ministry of Health website says 145 of them are in managed facilities and 63 are at home or in self-isolation.
The Fono has been providing support to households with members who isolate themselves. Executive Director Tevita Funaki said it was difficult for some to properly isolate when there was a positive case at home.
“It’s just hard, especially those Pacific families are large families and the challenges of actually becoming isolated. How can you isolate yourself when there are six or eight of you in a two-bedroom house?”
Funaki said that apart from limited space, families also needed supplies, including hygiene products and food, and it was a huge challenge.
“Even with the food supply we are trying to supply and adapt to the family and key essentials. Some of them need medication … to alleviate symptoms, but we have significant problems related to food supplies.”
Funaki said it was especially difficult for families divided between homes, hospitals and quarantine.
“The challenge around literacy revolves around understanding what the isolations and the severity of this Delta mean, if it’s a positive case, how they support that person, then the positive family members.”
Another social service provider, Pasifika Futures, also said there were delays.
Executive Director Debbie Sorensen said her organization was supporting families in isolation with food packages, bills, children’s devices, shelter and mental health needs.
“Certainly, the delay makes you aware of a complex situation and the families that are under pressure already feel more pressure, but you know, it’s the nature of the outbreak. The outbreak is a substantially large outbreak.”
Government agencies had worked well to meet the growing needs during this Delta outbreak, but things could have been better, Sorensen said.
There have been discussions about surge capacity in the past 12 months, he said.
“That ability was not put in place, so it has meant that there has really been a struggle, and the first days of this outbreak to bring everything up to speed.”
MIQ Joint Chief Brigadier Rose King said the team was processing referrals as soon as they received them.
“Referrals are usually received between 6 and 8 pm at night, so it is not always possible to transfer people that same night. Two additional drivers and vans are on standby to help if needed, so we are increasing in additional resources as needed, “King said. .
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were 274 quarantine rooms across the country and another 285 available for close contacts, and more than 200 additional rooms were available today.
The delay was not due to capacity and a team of specialists was used to transport people carefully, he said.
“We have people trained for that. We use them on our existing network to transport people from our managed isolation facility to the Jet Park, and we are using that same equipment. Because we are getting so many contacts on a new day, sometimes a little time for everyone to enter a facility. “
Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said there was no more risk for households with a positive case, as they would be isolated separately from their bubble.
Some families would take priority, he said.
“Sometimes the family group is quite large and therefore it is more difficult to do so, so those are the families that are given priority to be transferred and also from the beginning, the first discussion is to make sure that any wellness needs or other needs are being met. “
Bloomfield also said that people who do not find it safe to isolate themselves at home and feel they could become a case were prioritized for transfer to MIQ.