Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 positive families waiting up to 36 hours to receive news about isolation

About 1,000 people with Covid-19 are still waiting to find out if they will be isolated or quarantined.

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Of the 2017 active community cases in the country, an MIQ spokesperson said only 294 were in a quarantine facility.
Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Those on the front lines said the healthcare system was showing strain and contact tracing was struggling to keep up as the number of active community cases surpassed 2,000.

They were concerned that some would wait in houses that were not suitable for self-isolation.

The director of Te Whanau or Waipareira kōrure whānau, Iri Mako, leads a team that helps people who are suddenly diagnosed with Covid-19 and confined to their homes.

“They are really shocked and very anxious and worried,” he said.

For some, the news had come out of nowhere and they had no food stores.

Their team helped them stock up, made sure they had access to more, and verified that they had other support they needed.

Separate teams took care of their medical care if they needed it.

It was an image that would become more common as cases increased and the government moved away from the old model of people with Covid-19 staying in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

The Ministry of Health did not provide a complete figure for the number of people at home with Covid-19 now.

Of the 2017 active community cases in the country, an MIQ spokesperson said only 294 were in a quarantine facility.

Officially, the Health Ministry said it was supporting some 692 people to isolate them in their homes and another 58 were in the hospital.

That left around 1,000 more unclassified people, presumably at home as well, waiting to move to MIQ or to be officially cleared to self-isolate.

Te Whānau or Waipareira executive director John Tamihere said the ministry had to be direct about who was at home in order to give them enough support.

It was clear that the system was under pressure, he said.

His teams had dealt with families who waited up to 36 hours after testing positive to hear from health authorities about what to do.

“The fact is that contact tracing has collapsed because of the volume,” he said.

There was no proper assessment to see if people with Covid-19 could safely isolate themselves within their own homes or should enter MIQ, he said.

El Fono, another group that works with Covid-19 positive families, said it was also seeing tension in the system.

Executive Director Tevita Funaki said there was a wait to enter MIQ and some people wait 48 hours just to get their positive results, double the previous maximum.

“Due to the infectious nature of this variant, every day is important,” he said.

Fono and Te Whānau or Waipareira are concerned that some people with Covid-19 are isolated in homes that are too crowded to do so safely.

That was only going to happen more frequently as the number of cases increased, with some experts predicting that daily rates will hit 300 this month.

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