COVID-19: National MP Michael Woodhouse 'simply rejects' withholding information about infected women

A National MP denies he withheld information about two positive COVID-19 cases this week, saying going to the public first instead of the Ministry of Health was the "right thing to do".

In Parliament on Wednesday, Opposition Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse claimed a source told him the two women let out of quarantine without being tested had stopped for a "kiss and a cuddle"  with a member of the public on their way to Wellington, despite health officials initially saying they didn't meet anyone. The women were granted compassionate leave after the death of their mother but later tested positive for COVID-19.

After Woodhouse's claims, the Ministry of Health backtracked, saying the women did have "limited physical contact" after getting lost travelling out of Auckland and needing assistance.

Woodhouse said he believed raising the matter in Parliament was the "right thing to do" to "shake the Government out of its complacency".

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Woodhouse said he didn't believe any action would have been taken had he simply sent an email to Health Minister David Clark or Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Woodhouse found out about the pair having contact on Tuesday evening, he said.

"It was referred to me by a colleague and we spent that night and the morning, firstly checking the veracity of the claim and the source and also getting the right agreement for the person's confidentiality to be maintained," he told Newshub Nation.

"We sort-of had that sorted out by mid-morning Wednesday and decided that the best manner in which to highlight the inconsistencies of what the Government was saying and what was actually happening was through Question Time.

"I made a call that that would be the fastest way to get action on the Government, and I stand by that."

Asked by host Ryan Bridge why he sat on the information, Woodhouse said, "I simply reject that".

"I don't believe anybody else was put at risk by the manner in which this information went into the public domain.

"In any event, it sped things up, it didn't slow them down." 

He reiterated his belief the Government needed to "get their act together" at the border.

"Otherwise that tremendous effort that Kiwis put in is going to go to waste," Woodhouse said.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told The AM Show on Thursday that Woodhouse's claims prompted him to investigate the matter further.

He apologised for the blunder, saying there had been a "gap in effective implementation". 

"Of course, I've apologised to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health.

"We have got really high expectations and New Zealanders have those of us. We didn't meet them on this occasion and I am sorry for that. I am taking responsibility for making sure it is sorted out," he said. 

The Government had been assured people in 14-day quarantine were being tested on days three and 12, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"None of it is reasonable in my mind what has happened here," she said on Wednesday.

Assistant Chief of Defence Air Commodore Digby Webb has since taken control of overseeing quarantine and managed isolation facilities, including processes around exits. 

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