Saturday, November 27

MIQ: eight times more departures than usual expected on Sunday

Approximately 2,600 people will be eligible to leave their managed isolation hotel on Sunday when stays for international arrivals are reduced to seven days, followed by three days of isolation at home.

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Depending on the changes, each person who has completed seven days or more at MIQ will be assessed using a “low risk indicator” and a health check before leaving. (File image)
Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

The returnees are thinking about the logistics and guidelines for two-part isolation, which epidemiologist Michael Baker believes is redundant in Auckland.

Compared to a normal day at MIQ, officials estimate that there will be eight times the normal number of departures on Sunday.

Each person who has completed seven days or more at MIQ will be assessed through a ‘low risk indicator’ and a medical check-up before leaving, and due to the large number of people, officials warn that some returnees may have to wait. another two or three days. To be processed.

Paul Clark will enter his eighth day of isolation at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza on Sunday.

He said details on how exactly the mass departure would work had been scant.

“I’m somewhat puzzled as to what the arrangements will be. I suppose anyone leaving the region will probably go back to the airport, and maybe pick up a rental or take another flight to another location … I was lying on a load of buses and shuttles and I’m not sure how it’s going to work yet, “he said.

He has been trying to organize food delivery and transportation for his self-isolation near the Thames.

The returnees have received a list of what they can and cannot do during the three days of self-isolation, asking them to go somewhere and stay there until they return a negative test on day nine.

The Health Ministry said they should leave MIQ in private transport whenever possible, such as a car that a friend has left, otherwise it suggested that returnees ask a friend to pick them up, while wearing masks.

If private transport is not available, the ministry said returnees could use public transport such as a taxi or a domestic flight, but it should be “the most direct route possible.”

The ministry said people could isolate themselves in their own homes, in private accommodations like an Airbnb, or with friends or whānau if they kept a distance of two meters.

Returnees can only leave for testing on the ninth day or in an emergency, and any food must be delivered without contact.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was confident that people would follow the rules.

“We see a good degree of compliance from people crossing the international border,” he said.

“The public health risk assessment is that the risk, from that seven-day marker onwards, is very low. Those three additional days of home isolation reduce it even more.”

Epidemiologist Michael Baker agreed, for the most part.

The rules were enough to keep the population safe and made sense for most of the country, said Professor Baker.

However, in Auckland, where experts have estimated that returnees are less likely to carry Covid-19 than residents, Baker said it was a “completely different story.”

“In Auckland, it is really no longer necessary for people to go through MIQ, because their risk is very low compared to people in Auckland,” he said.

“The other big reason is that we need MIQ in Auckland for people who are currently infected with the virus and have to isolate themselves at home, sometimes with their family there as well.”

It was not yet clear exactly how many rooms will be released for more returnees or community Covid-19 cases for shorter stays at MIQ.

Professor Baker said MIQ was a “precious and expensive resource” and it was clear that there were community cases of Covid-19 that desperately needed that space.

In a statement, an MIQ spokesperson said there was a lot of planning going on to ensure the transition to the new system went smoothly on Sunday, and asked people to be patient while working the exits.

The spokesperson said that MIQ staff would be available to assist with arranging transportation.

Brigadier Rose King was not available for interview.

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