COVID-19: Andrew Little unaware of allegations Waiheke case a non-resident, flouted health rules

Health Minister Andrew Little has admitted he is unaware of shocking allegations from an Auckland employer who is disputing claims by the Ministry of Health regarding a COVID-19 positive case on Waiheke Island.

The employer spoke to RNZ's Checkpoint on Wednesday night where they said the COVID-infected man was last at work on a construction site a week ago and complained of feeling sick, before testing positive.

The man will be self-isolating at home for two weeks but the employer said he couldn't be trusted as he had already flouted health rules by travelling to Waiheke despite not being a resident, and while either COVID-postive or awaiting test results. 

The employer also claimed the worker had travelled across the Waikato border earlier in the lockdown, despite not having an essential reason to do so.

When questioned about the allegations on Thursday, Health Minister Andrew Little admitted he didn't know about the claims the man wasn't a resident and had breached the border.

"I did not know the latter stuff but I have seen the report of the employer challenging his essential worker status," he told The AM Show. 

"What I do know of this person is that they travelled to Waiheke on the car ferry, they were in the car the whole time. They drove from the car ferry to their place.

"The risk of infection of others is extraordinarily low and as far as I'm advised, they are isolating at their home on Waiheke Island. That's what I'm aware of. I certainly haven't heard some of the allegations you have just listed."

Little said he has been told all COVID cases currently self-isolating are following the rules.

"Yes they are. They have been assessed as being reasonably low risk. They are infected so their requirement is to isolate at home and our reports indicate so far that they are doing so. I'm not aware of any reports that suggest they are not.

"There are some checks going on - more nature of welfare checks to check that the people are good - but they are complying with the requirements put on them to isolate until they are better."

The AM Show host Ryan Bridge questioned if Kiwis should be worried about COVID-positive cases breaking home isolation. But Little insisted only low-risk cases are allowed to self isolate.

"The people who are isolating at home are at low risk of transmission to others and are therefore being allowed to isolate at home," Little said. 

"But the reality is, once we move to where we get to the acceptable isolation level is that people will continue to get infected with COVID and in fact most people will be able to or need to recover in their home or if their home is too overcrowded with too many people we will find a facility for them to go to."