Omicron: Govt a deer in the headlights

Tue, 21 Dec, 2021

“The Government hasn’t a clue what to do about Omicron, imposing a six-week delay on home isolation without explaining what will be better then,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"We know there's no certainty but people want clarity. It's unclear why a six week delay in home isolation is worth it when even Hipkins admits the virus may well escape MIQ anyway.

“Chris Hipkins has told the country that we need to buy time against Omicron, but is happy to wait two weeks before bringing forward boosters. If it’s urgent, they could have simply said ‘from today you can book a booster from four months after your second dose.’ If there is not enough capacity, bookings will be full.’ Isn’t that what we’d want?

“Meanwhile there are no other initiatives to boost New Zealand’s resilience besides needing a test within 48 hours of departing for New Zealand and extending MIQ to 10 days.

"There is nothing about ICU or general hospital capacity. We have to assume they’ve given up on contact tracing such a rapid variant. How are new treatments coming along, is the Government doing anything other than waiting to boost?

“The home isolation delay also amplifies an inconsistent policy. When Omicron gets out, thousands of people will be allowed to home isolate, because there will be no MIQ capacity for them. Once again we’ll have a double standard where people who’ve tested negative can’t enter their own country because of MIQ requirements -the same MIQ requirements that won't apply to people already in the country who have tested positive.

“Tens of thousands of people will have their hopes dashed, often after waiting an age to be reunited. And yet, there is no logic in the reopening delay. Chris Hipkins accepts the virus will get here and spread rapidly despite MIQ, perhaps as soon as next month. He is buying time at others’ expense. They will pay and we’ll end up in the same place anyway.

“The Government has once again shown it has no forward thinking or balancing of New Zealanders’ different risks in its COVID response."