COVID-19: US author Alex Berenson says New Zealand putting returnees into 'indefinite confinement'

A former New York Times reporter has claimed New Zealand is putting people into "indefinite confinement" under what he describes as an "occupation" after seemingly getting confused about our managed isolation system.

Controversial author Alex Berenson, who argues the health impact of COVID-19 is exaggerated, shared screenshots online of a Newshub Nation interview with University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker.

Prof Baker warned the New Zealand system of sending returnees to managed isolation facilities for 14-day stints could continue for months - and possibly years - into the future as coronavirus continues to spread around the world.

However, Berenson appears to have misunderstood New Zealand's quarantine situation in a message to his Twitter followers.

"Don’t think developed nations with a tradition of respecting individual rights will trash them for #Covid?" Berenson wrote.

"I have two words for you: New Zealand. Where indefinite confinement is already real, and PEOPLE IN ISOLATION ARE DESPERATELY TRYING TO BREAK FREE. Welcome to the occupation."

Berenson's tweet set off his readers, many of whom are Americans concerned about the loss of liberty due to coronavirus lockdowns.

"Wtf that is horrifying," one person replied.

"'Isolation facility sounds a lot like PRISON," another said.

"They banned semiautomatic weapons just in time for the internment camps!" a third said.

Berenson's apparent confusion was called out by multiple Kiwis. One accused him of either being stupid or "extremely disingenuous".

"If you have any intellectual honesty whatsoever you'll delete these tweets and correct the record. People spend a maximum two weeks in a facility. Not months. Not years. That's just how long the measures will be in place, not how long people have to spend," Ben Uffindell replied.

"So frustrating to see Alex push an agenda by telling his followers what's happening here is the actual opposite of the reality. Up is down."

"Ahaha this is excellent comedy. Like, yes, our mandatory two week fully taxpayer-subsidized hotel stay is 'indefinite confinement,' despite judicial review," wrote Matt Whitehead.

"Also, you literally have migrants in concentration camps right now. OMG."

Newshub has updated the article to make it clearer to those reading from overseas that Kiwis will not be put in indefinite detention.