There are calls to remove Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) for low-risk travelers returning to live in Auckland, so that space can be made for positive Covid-19 cases that risk going unnoticed while self-isolating in home.
It comes after the GP of the Papakura Marae Health Clinic in South Auckland, Dr. Matire Harwood, said that some Covid-positive patients were waiting up to three days to hear from authorities, let alone to get a medical checkup.
For every person with Covid in MIQ, nine isolate themselves at home.
Health Minister Andrew Little said the system was “caught off guard” by the number of Covid cases in recent weeks, even though they were in line with the government’s own estimates.
Harwood is monitoring the isolation of 20 Covid-positive people at home.
He said government health authorities were slow to contact them.
“Their guidelines say that [the government] It will be the first point of contact, they will make sure these things are in place, patients have the oximeters, they will be clinically checked and wellness issues addressed, but that has not been our experience. People wait two to three days to hear from someone, “Harwood said.
He visited seven recently positive homes on Friday, and none of them had heard from the Ministry of Health or the district health board (DHB).
“So I had to go out and do those oxygen checks because they were really worried: ‘Am I wrong?’ They don’t know their oxygen levels without having their oximeter, and [they’re] seeing on the news that some people have passed [away] not knowing how bad they really could be. “
More than 1,200 people with Covid are now isolated at home, and another 1,600 household contacts are with them. That’s 2,835 people in 885 households.
Only 117 people with Covid are in MIQ.
A researcher from the University of Otago in the Department of Public Health, Lucy Telfar-Barnard, said it would be better if there were more people in MIQ with available health staff than at home.
“It is much better for them if they can be in a place where there are people who check on them regularly rather than at home, where they rely on a lot of services that can be well coordinated to make sure they are well supported,” Telfar said. -Barnard.
Starting this Sunday, returning travelers will have their MIQ stays cut in half, from 14 days to seven.
Dr Telfar-Barnard said that most double-vaccinated returnees with negative pre-departure tests were at very low risk and were more likely to contract Covid in Auckland than to bring it back to the country.
Since the virus is circulating widely in Auckland, Telfar-Barnard said low-risk returnees returning to live in Auckland should be able to bypass MIQ entirely.
This would free up beds in MIQ facilities for those who actually have Covid and may need more medical care.
“We really need those MIQ beds for known cases and their close contacts who cannot effectively isolate themselves at home,” he said.
The health minister said public health personnel did not expect cases to increase so rapidly.
“What happened is the rapid escalation of numbers [of cases] In the last few weeks it took the system something by surprise, so the initial stage of contacting people with a positive result meant that some were not contacted in a timely enough manner, ”he said.
However, the actual case numbers are in line with government estimates.
In the seven days ending Sunday, 1,037 cases were reported. The model released last week at the post-prime minister’s press conference shows they expected 1,000 cases that week.
Little called the slow contact times “roadblocks” that officials were working hard to fix, with the likelihood that cases would continue to rise and the virus would spread across the country.
“Covid will spread across the rest of the country. We need to make sure all the other DHBs, all the other regions, are up and running and their systems are up and running. Everyone is watching what is happening in Auckland right now because we can “I repeat the things we have seen in Auckland in other parts of the country.”