The homeless man who allegedly snuck into a five-star hotel operating as a COVID-19 quarantine facility in Auckland "may well be an urban myth", Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed.
The Director-General of Health gave an update on Tuesday after it emerged last week a man had reportedly posed as a returning New Zealander who needed to complete 14 days of mandatory isolation.
"[On] the homeless person who apparently spent some time in managed isolation in Auckland. As far as we can tell, this cannot be verified and may well be an urban myth," he said during a press conference.
National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse made the allegation on The AM Show on Thursday, and said although the anecdote is "unverified", it came from a "reliable source".
"One of the five-star hotels housed a homeless person for a couple of weeks under the pretence that it was someone who came back from overseas. When the person was ready for discharge, he was asked for a forwarding address, only to tell the official that he didn't have one - because he was homeless," Woodhouse said.
"He hadn't come back from overseas, he just joined the back of the queue two weeks ago, and spent a fortnight getting three square meals and a bath every day on the Government.
"It just shows what a shambles this thing is. The ministry should be managing this - it's not actually rocket science."
When The AM Show host Duncan Garner raised the possibility of the story being fabricated, Woodhouse said he would be happy to investigate the claim further.
"I'm quite happy to dig further into it, but there will be a number of anecdotes like this," he said.
Following Bloomfield's update on Tuesday, Woodhouse continued to stand by his initial claim and told Stuff he "didn't make it up" because his source is "very reliable".
He added just because the Ministry of Health couldn't verify his claim doesn't mean it wasn't true.
"My story was that I had a reliable source who told me that story. That hasn't changed."