ACT leader David Seymour has rebuked the Government for its "reckless" delay in releasing the list of locations visited by a confirmed case of COVID-19, a woman who tested positive after departing a managed isolation facility.
On Sunday, it was announced that the 56-year-old had returned a positive result for the virus - not long after she completed her mandatory 14-day isolation period at Auckland's Pullman Hotel, where she had tested negative twice.
The woman, who resides south of Whangārei, left the facility on January 13 and visited a number of locations in the Northland region and in Helensville, northern Auckland, over the following days.
On Sunday night, the Ministry of Health released a list of almost 30 businesses visited by the woman from January 14 to January 22, including Noel Leeming, the Bendon outlet, Bed Bath and Beyond and The Warehouse in Whangārei on January 15 - the day she began developing symptoms. She also visited other shops and cafes in Parua Bay, Ruakaka, Mangawhai Heads and Helensville, before seeking a test on January 22 for her worsening symptoms.
But Seymour, the MP for Epsom, claims the Government's delay in issuing the list was "reckless", arguing that people cannot take proactive action by isolating or organising a test unless they are given the necessary information.
"The rule should be: tell the people, trust the people. People want to take responsibility and isolate and get tested, but they can't do that if they don't know which locations the infected person's been at," he told Newshub on Sunday night.
"This Government has a responsibility to treat New Zealanders as adults - and tell them and trust them - so they can take responsibility fully informed. People can't make a decision to [get a] test or self-isolate or take responsibility in general if the Government will not trust them with basic information.
"Today's news is a huge awakening for New Zealand. It could plunge us back into lockdown. We must hope the processes can be stood up rapidly in the Northland region."
The full list of locations was not released until roughly 9pm - five hours after COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield fronted a press conference regarding the case. However, the first location of interest - the Bendon outlet in Whangārei - was issued shortly after 6:20pm. People who were in-store between 9:33am and 10am on January 15 are advised to remain at home, call Healthline and organise a test.
During the 4pm press conference on Sunday, Dr Bloomfield was questioned by a reporter as to why the list of locations had not been released to the public as soon as the information was obtained.
Dr Bloomfield said health officials were notifying the owners of affected businesses before the locations would be publicly published.
"We're still getting that information. We want to contact the people who own or run those premises before we provide that information. It will start to go up on our website at any time," he said.
"The interview was done with this person just this [Sunday] morning and all the information was gleaned from that interview, and from downloading the data from her COVID Tracer app.
"We are going through a process, and our national contact tracing team is supporting the DHB to contact all those businesses as quickly as possible."
Seymour reiterated to Newshub that the woman was a "model citizen" who diligently recorded her movements using the NZ COVID Tracer app and had enabled its Bluetooth function.
The woman in question returned to New Zealand from the United Kingdom via Singapore on December 30.
Two close contacts - the woman's husband and her hairdresser - have since tested negative for COVID-19. Six close contacts have been identified and the remaining results are yet to be confirmed.
Genomic sequencing is underway to help identify where the woman might have contracted the virus.
For further information about community testing centres in Northland, click here.
For further information about community testing centres in Auckland, click here.
Find your nearest testing location via Healthpoint here.
Two pop-up community testing clinics are open from Monday to Wednesday. A Mangawhai Community Testing Centre is located at Mangawhai Domain, 75 Moir Street, and a Helensville Community Testing Centre is located at Te Whare Oranga ō Parakai, 11 Parakai Ave, Parakai. For opening hours, click here.
New Zealanders are urged to stay home if unwell and to maintain stringent hygiene practices - including thoroughly washing and drying hands and coughing or sneezing into the elbow. Healthline can be contacted on 0800 358 5453.