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Quarantine worker COVID infection evidence of MIQ system failures

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 7 November 2020

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says the fact that an Auckland MIQ worker has contracted COVID-19, as announced yesterday, is both disappointing and troubling, but not at all surprising.

NZNO Associate Professional Services Manager Kate Weston says Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) has failed to address serious systemic problems at Auckland MIQ facilities since they took over as the employer for clinical staff at the end of September.

“Members tell us there is not consistent access to N95 masks, and that they are not being fit tested for these masks, which is important for their safe use. While the DHB say they have been fit testing for the last couple of weeks it could not tell us how many staff had been fit tested or when procedures would be in place to fit test all staff.

“Likewise they have no clear plans in place which will address the short-staffing our members’ report with the urgency required.”

Ms Weston said this was simply not good enough considering how long NZNO has been in talks with CMDHB about these issues, and because no lessons seem to have been learned.

“Inadequate access to PPE and poor training in its use has been an issue we’ve known about since this all began, and here we are again. That this is still happening is completely shocking and matter of huge public concern.

“New Zealand is in a privileged position internationally, but workers protecting our borders are becoming infected because an overwhelmed system cannot cope. More must be done to protect our workers and protect our community.”

Ms Weston again called for a full and urgent review of how MIQ facilities are run to identify systemic failures.

“We need to identify systemic problems across the board and address them with urgency. We need CMDHB to listen to our members’ concerns and provide more than vague plans. Our members are working in unsafe conditions, and they feel fearful, angry and frustrated.

“Until these issues are resolved the risk to New Zealanders will remain very real because we can expect more nurses and other health workers will contract COVID-19.” 

NZNO is in talks with several DHBs and is also working closely with other CTU affiliated unions and MBIE to develop a Work Participation Agreement (WPA). This WPA will be applicable to all workers across all MIQ facilities in New Zealand. The WPA will be a mechanism to ensure worker engagement participation and representation for all workers in these facilities around all health and safety matters.


Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617.

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