Health Minister David Clark brutally throws Dr Ashley Bloomfield under the bus while standing right next to him

Watch Newshub political editor Tova O'Brien's report. Credit: Newshub

Health Minister David Clark has brutally thrown Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield under the bus while standing right next to him, after the Government's quarantine testing botch-up.

The Director-General of Health can't rule out cases of COVID-19 being back in the community after the Ministry of Health failed to test hundreds of people before releasing them from quarantine. 

He says the risk is low but National's new leader Todd Muller has suggested the botch-ups could mean there's undetected community transmission.

Dr Clark pointed blame at the Director-General as they stood next to each other in Wellington on Wednesday. 

Newshub's footage captured Dr Bloomfield's face after Dr Clark told reporters, "The Director-General has accepted that the protocol wasn't being followed. He has accepted responsibility for that."

Newshub asked the Health Minister why he won't take some of the responsibility.

"The Director-General has already acknowledged that the system didn't deliver here."

Dr Clark shouldn't be so quick to lay blame.

If Dr Bloomfield hadn't been forced to step up as a de facto Health Minister during the COVID-19 response because Dr Clark was AWOL, perhaps Dr Bloomfield would've been able to focus on his actual job - running the operational side of things.

National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse suggested there has been a breakdown in the relationship between Dr Clark and Dr Bloomfield.

"We've seen from the body language over the last couple of weeks that the relationship between the Minister of Health and the Director-General has deteriorated."

But Dr Bloomfield has denied that's the case.

What has gone wrong?

On June 9, the Government introduced mandatory double-testing for COVID-19 in quarantine so that nobody could be released without a negative result.

Exactly a week later it got busted releasing two women with COVID-19 without tests, and during that critical week, the Ministry of Health broke its own rules - letting out hundreds of people without tests.

National leader Todd Muller suspects that means there's COVID-19 in the community.

"In the absence of testing [the Prime Minister] can't know that none of those people had COVID-19 when they left managed isolation," he said in Parliament on Wednesday.

Newshub spoke to Kait Scott, a woman released from isolation on Tuesday, who said her experience was a good one but double-testing rules weren't followed. 

"We were told we would be tested on day two and day 12, and I didn't hear anything about it until day nine," she told Newshub. 

People in quarantine are supposed to be tested twice but Scott had just the one test on day 10.

"I didn't hear anything about the first test."

In the week after the new testing rules were brought in, 54 people were allowed to leave early on compassionate grounds. But almost all - 50 people - left without being tested.

There were 2159 released generally from quarantine and at least 449 were allowed out without a test - and counting.

Newshub asked Dr Bloomfield if he can categorically rule out any undetected community transmission as a result of people leaving facilities without tests.

"I can't categorically do that, however what I can say is that there is a very low risk."

So far, 56 of those released have refused to be tested.

"We can't force the procedure on them," Dr Bloomfield said. "There's nothing further to do but a reminder that they have all been checked on."

ACT leader David Seymour says the Government is incompetent. 

"These bungling idiots couldn't run a bath let alone a border. We're supposed to have the world's smartest borders. I think unfortunately we now have the world's dumbest borders."

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