Rage at the border

Excuse my French – but I am beyond pissed off, in fact using the F word is probably the only appropriate way to express how I’m feeling. On Thursday night it was revealed that 63.5 percent of all border and hotel isolation workers in Auckland had never been tested for COVID.

Let me re-iterate that, 2/3 of those working at our border, meaning airport staff like Customs and Immigration, hotel workers and security have never been tested for COVID.

As I listened to the news last night my pulse increased and I, like many others, raged at the revelation.

How is it possible, after being told we have some of the most stringent border controls in the world, that simple regular tests of the staff on the frontline have not been conducted?

It begs belief, frankly.

It does not take a rocket scientist to look at New Zealand and understand that our biggest weakness was always the border.

In fact, when we saw these issues cropping up across the ditch, you would have thought someone, anyone would have said “let’s make sure this is watertight in NZ”.

More than six weeks has passed since these issues were first identified in Melbourne and that gave us a playbook and advantage in ensuring our border controls were indestructible.

But here we are again, back in Level 3 and our fellow kiwis have the right to feel furious and let down.

Because we have been let down, we have been promised something that has not been delivered by our politicians. We have been told we have got world-class border controls. When in fact, we have nothing of the sort.

Our governing party has promised and seriously under delivered and our opposition party has been too busy infighting to hold the government to account.

They must both take accountability and I think a public apology to the people of New Zealand is in order.

But that still leaves us with today. Where to now?

While I’m not a scientist, I see that other countries are using rapid testing at borders to quickly identify if there are any risks.

Yes, rapid testing might not be bullet proof, but surely regular rapid testing is better than no testing at all at the border?

Surely, we must now rethink our approach. Rapid and regular testing of our border must become a key part of the COVID strategy.

  1. What is the policy on testing moving forward?
  2. Is the MOH considering a rapid testing strategy at the border?
  3. What other weaknesses exist within the system and what is being done to mitigate them?