Former safety inspector warns of another serious Covid outbreak

Matthew Theunissen
Auckland, January 12, 2021

Auckland International Airport Arrival (Photo by Brett Phibbs-PhibbsVisuals)

A former WorkSafe inspector says that procedures at airports, ports and MIQ facilities are far too relaxed to prevent one of the new strains of Covid-19 getting into the community.

Opposition parties are also accusing the government of drifting into a summer slumber.

But officials say that they are still at the wheel and will not hesitate to introduce more protections, if required.

It comes as the UK and South African Covid variants, now running rampant around the globe, are confirmed in New Zealand’s managed isolation facilities.

Extending negative tests

From Friday, travellers from the US and UK will need to provide a negative test before departing for New Zealand, and the government is investigating whether this should be extended to other Covid hotspots. But with the new strains now inside New Zealand’s isolation facilities, there are calls for more to be done.

Allister Rose, a former Police Officer and WorkSafe Inspector who now runs a health and safety consultancy, said that his contacts working at airports, ports and MIQ hotels fear another outbreak.

“The sort of thing that I am hearing is that everyone is on holiday at the moment – everyone is at the beach. “They see their colleagues going off to the beach and they are waiting for their turn to head off to the beach as well. So people are feeling a little bit too relaxed and they are not being checked by WorkSafe. Therefore, we do not actually know how efficient our workers are at MIQ or any of the ports,” he said.

Appeal to Prime Minister

He said that WorkSafe needs to conduct an urgent audit of border procedures and protocols to make sure things are up to scratch.

“A number of my former colleagues who are working in these types of facilities are concerned because they are not being checked – they do not have any interaction whatsoever with WorkSafe. There is nothing coming down from the Prime Minister about how we should be dealing with this. The Prime Minister is absolutely okay to be commenting on what is happening in America, but she is absolutely absent about a potential catastrophe that is just about to happen.

“In my view, Parliament should be recalled… It’s time to step up and start to manage before our economy is absolutely wrecked.”

Matthew Theunissen is a Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above story and picture have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
The above Report has been sponsored by

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