No rush to reduce number of days in MIQ, possibly next year but definitely not next flight

The government will not be reducing the number of days in MIQ from 13 to 10 until ‘possibly’ next year and not on the next flight as previously reported.

Acting Secretary to Government and Director General of Health and the Ministry of Social Services Gaylene Tasmania confirmed this last week on Friday’s News of the Week radio programme that it is best to inform the public of the government’s intentions but implementing the reduction will not happen until next year.

“It’s best that we inform the public now of government’s intentions but that (reduction of days in MIQ) may not be until the new year.

“It will certainly not be on the next flight on the 29th (November)” says Mrs. Tasmania.

“We’ve got a few more flights before the end of this year. Do we rush to implement that change or should we just try to get our people home, arrange accommodation and just stay the course that we’re on now and possibly look at the new year”, says Mrs. Tasmania.

“The press release did say we have to look at logistics and I believe Cabinet is also keen to perhaps look at next year, if not this year. There really is no rush for us to do this but we do need to move forward”.

Mrs Tasmania says that the government’s strategy from the beginning is to delay the entry of Covid 19 into the country. If it does enter the country, the strategy is to contain it at the border.

“We’ve never said that we promise to keep it out. We said that we will delay entry because that’s more realistic and we’ve always maintained that. The Code Blue has always been about delaying the entry of Covid-19 and we will stick to that, delaying the entry. And all these strategies we have put in place is about delaying entry and if it did come in then we will contain it at MIQ”.

The difference now is the delta variant of Covid-19 has changed, and the incubation period is much shorter between 3 to 5 days unlike the original version which had a much longer incubation period. The decision to reduce the number of days in MIQ is because of the reduction of the incubation period.

Mrs Tasmania told News of the Week that they are now testing on day zero and on day three and day twelve. The government has also taken into account the fact that for many of the passengers who have underlying health conditions, staying longer than necessary in MIQ will contribute to stress levels and impacting on people’s mental health.

Tasmania says that the decisions made by the government are based on risk assessments and advice from experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and officials from New Zealand’s Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, despite Premier Tagelagi’s comments on BCN news last week that the Scenic Matavai will be free to commence their festive season programme in December, the government has decided to continue to use the Ocean View wing of the Scenic Matavai Resort for the passengers on the next flight Monday 29th.

The passengers from that flight will leave MIQ on Sunday, December 12 and the Scenic Matavai will be able to commence their Christmas season events and bookings for the duration of the festive season.

According to Mrs Tasmania, the government is trying to bring home the many passengers waiting in Auckland. Some of these passengers booked their travel in July and August.

There are currently thirty-eight passengers in MIQ at the Ocean wing of the Scenic Matavai and at the 10 apartments at Homofiti.

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