Michael Woodhouse defends claim homeless man got free two-week stay at managed isolation facility

Michael Woodhouse is defending his unsusbtantiated claim a homeless man got a free two-week stay at a COVID-19 managed isolation facility, saying "it's really difficult to prove it".

National's health spokesperson made the allegation on The AM Show last week. He said a "reliable source" - an Auckland-based health professional - had told him of a homeless man who was staying in a facility used to house people returning to New Zealand.

In speaking to host Duncan Garner, Woodhouse was clear the anecdote was unverified.

However he's come under heavy fire in recent days from the Government, who say he should've provided more solid proof of the incident before he went public. On Tuesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield went as far to say it "may well be an urban myth".

But Woodhouse told Magic Talk he's standing by his story.

"I stand by exactly what I said last week, which is that I had that communicated to me by a very reliable source, who believed it to be true," he said in an interview with Sean Plunket on Wednesday afternoon.

"I went back to that source to make sure that information I had I faithfully reported. I was careful last week of course, on [The AM Show] to say that I wasn't able to verify it because it's really difficult to prove it. I was careful not to portray it as gospel."

Woodhouse says the Government's insistence on disproving the claim by combing through CCTV footage and visitor records in the middle of a health crisis shows it's focused on the wrong thing.

"The Government have doubled down on [my claim], with Dr Megan Woods writing to me to say 'put up or shut up'," he continued.

"Frankly, the fact that she has got officials… running down that rabbithole when she should have been deploying those resources to make sure that everyone in isolation was being tested, is a measure of how the Government's actually got its priorities wrong here."

Woodhouse believes the Government's botch-ups should be what's under scrutiny - not his allegations.

"The central point is… when there was no testing we weren't getting any cases. Now that the testing has started, we have had about a dozen cases," he said.

"That just fails a sniff test for me, because these people have been in isolation for several weeks."

The Government has been taken to task over the last week after two sisters who returned to New Zealand from the UK were granted a compassionate exemption from managed isolation at Novotel Ellerslie, following the death of their mother.

The women, who later tested positive for coronavirus, were allowed to leave despite one exhibiting symptoms and neither being tested for the disease prior to their journey.

Other blunders since then include travellers being kept in isolation beyond 14 days due to testing delays, a large party held at a quarantine facility and a group of 10 people being allowed out early to attend a burial.