An Auckland family in home isolation after one of their bubble tested positive for Covid-19 say they have been waiting over a week to speak to a clinician on the phone.
A member of the family, a PhD student who has asked to remain anonymous, said they had not left the house since her sibling first tested positive for Covid-19 on October 25.
The four other members of the household, who were all fully vaccinated, have since returned two negative tests.
Last Thursday they were told a clinician would be in touch with the positive sibling soon to discuss a possible discharge.
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But, despite being contacted for a health check on Sunday, and being symptom-free since at least that time, they were still waiting for this to happen at 6pm on Thursday.
The relative said it is believed to be about be day 20 since the sibling case was first infected, based on the information they had been provided by officials.
They had been told by several Ministry of health officials that their 14 days isolation would not begin until they recovered.
“On day one we were told that once the person was discharged our 14 days of isolation would start but that was likely to be soon, because they were towards the end of their cycle.”
“Now that we’re in the second week and they have not been discharged, nor spoken with a clinician that could discharge them, we’re realising this could be indefinite.”
The student said the uncertainty was “suffocating” and putting “intense pressure” on the family – particularly for the sibling, who had an anxiety disorder and depression.
“We can’t focus on our work, I can’t focus on my PhD.”
“I’ve just been speaking to my supervisor about whether I should suspend because it’s just impossible to focus when so much of our time is spent on phone calls, trying to get some kind of answer.”
“We’ve spent the week calling them and being moved from one person to another, and nobody has the authority to tell us anything about our case.”
Speaking on Breakfast this morning, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfieldsaid positive Covid cases isolating at home were contacted daily.
He said those isolating at home had daily contact with officials, either by email or phone call. There was also “face to face” contact for some, if they required it.
The PhD student said this had not been their experience of home isolation.
“I wish we had the experience of a Covid-positive person having daily checks, because that’s how it should be.”
The family say they have spent between two and three hours on the phone yesterday to the Ministry of Health – mostly on hold.
While the sibling had been contacted on Sunday for a health check that was not a clinician.
The other four members of the household have been contacted daily since Sunday, but those calls also weren’t from a clinician, or anyone that could answer their questions.
“They ask us if we have a sore throat, if we have a cough or if we’ve been out of the house without a mask,” said the student.
“They only want to know answers to the set questions. They don’t ask us about the mental health experience … it seems like they’re just reading off a list. “
The student said the family did not have direct contact with anyone in charge of their case, and had to continue to ring the Covid hotline for the general public.
Home isolation had been triggering and damaging for the mental health of the sibling.
“They have known from day one that the person who is Covid positive has an intense anxiety disorder and depressive issues.”
“They have been offered no mental health support but we have been advised to keep them in their bedroom.”
“So they have been shut in his bedroom for a week until we decided that we had to let them out.”
“You can’t manage that for long periods of time, it’s really triggering for someone with anxiety.”
A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed a positive person must isolate until they are determined to have been “recovered” by a medical professional.
“In some cases, this is a minimum of 14 days and at least 72 hours symptom-free.”
“If there are other cases in the household, the recovered case does not need to isolate until the last case in the household has recovered.”
The spokesperson said public health assessments were undertaken to determine whether a positive case could isolate at home.
“This is then followed by a medical assessment of their clinical needs and any medical conditions they may have. If people need hospital-level care, it is arranged for them.”
“Over the period of required isolation, there are regular checks undertaken through a mixture of phone calls, in-person visits and emails.
“Individuals with Covid-19 are also given a pulse oximeter to help monitor their health.”
“All positive cases have access to a dedicated, free 24/7 Healthline service, and are told to call 111 if they need urgent medical attention or are having issues breathing.”
The Ministry of health did not provide any information on checks related to mental health.
Auckland University Law Professor Bill Hodge spoke to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning.
On a High Court decision for the Government to reconsider a decision to decline Auckland rich lister Murray Bolton’s request to isolate at home on his return from the US – where he plans to fly in his private jet – Hodge said it was a tremendously significant decision.
“So far, the courts have generally been upholding the Government’s approach,” he said.
“But this is the weak link in the Government’s struggle with Covid – I think MIQ, many people thought of it as broken from the beginning.”
Hodge said Bolton’s taking on MBIE was doing the rest of us a great service.
Hodge said if the Government came back and declined Bolton again, it would be a loss for the rest of the public also.
He acknowledged that Bolton had provided a great case and had presented a special case. Bolton was also double vaccinated.
“Remember, he’s going to travel in a private jet,” he laughed.
“I don’t think most of us are going to hop over to Sydney on a private jet.”
Asked what might worry the Government more – Bolton’s case or a petition?
“I think both things are happening. I think the public have had enough of MIQ and I think MIQ is very close to being broken.”
Hodge acknowledged how confusing it was that Covid-infected people were now being allowed to self-isolate at home.
“How can it be more absurd? Why go into an MIQ if people who already [have] been proven sick can go home, but people with a double vaccination must go to MIQ.
“Something is fundamentally wrong there and I think the Government realises: ‘We’re in big trouble’.
Government shouldn't play Santa – National
National Party’s justice spokesman, Simon Bridges told Three’s AM Show that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Government should not be playing Santa.
New Zealanders need to know what is happening in regards to the border before Christmas.
Bridges said he has heard speculations that Ardern may be leaving her post at some point.
But Labour’s David Parker believed she would continue on to the next election – and would win.
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