COVID-19: 'Proof is in the pudding' with quarantine measures as no community transmission - Megan Woods

Minister in charge of managed isolation Megan Woods says "the proof is in the pudding" with New Zealand's quarantine measures due to the country having no known community transmitted COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines as New Zealand recorded two more cases in the country on Tuesday, bringing the overall tally to 10.

Health Minister David Clark on Tuesday announced regular testing of border workers and airline crews to fix weaknesses in New Zealand's border system, while the Government is considering charging returning travellers to help chip in for their two-week quarantine or isolation stay.

After several failures in the system last week, Woods was put in charge of the quarantine and managed isolation of returning Kiwis.

Her appointment followed two women being allowed to leave a quarantine facility in Auckland without being tested for COVID-19 before they later tested positive.

Woods told The Project on Tuesday it was "entirely possible" for the system to continue to operate in a way that will keep New Zealanders safe.

"Let's bear in mind - we've had 21,000 people come into New Zealand, into our managed isolation facilities and we do not have community transmission of COVID. The proof is in the pudding right there."

People shouldn't be worried about new cases of COVID-19 being found in New Zealand, she said.

"What we're seeing in terms of these cases is they are being caught in our isolation facilities - this is the system working."

She said to date, no New Zealanders wanting to come home have been turned away at the border.

"All New Zealanders have a right to return to their home and that's why we're making sure we've got this good line of safety to protect the gains that we've all made."

There have also been calls made for those returning New Zealanders to start paying for their quarantine. Stays at quarantine facilities cost the taxpayer about $4000 per person and more than 20,000 people have entered them so far.

Megan Woods.
Megan Woods. Photo credit: The Project

"There's a legal position around the fact we can't look like we're charging people to enter New Zealand," said Woods, when asked by host Jesse Mulligan why people don't have to pay for quarantine. "That could be seen as stopping New Zealanders' right to enter their country.

The total cost of managing people arriving at the border sits at about $81 million so far. Woods said the Government was working through a way returnees could pay part of the cost, adding "we're taking out time to make sure we get this right" but it was "progressing well".

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