Health Minister Chris Hipkins shuts down myth Oranga Tamariki is taking children from people with COVID-19

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has shut down rumours that Oranga Tamariki is taking children away from people who test positive for COVID-19. 

During a press conference on Thursday Hipkins said the rumour, which has been circulating in the community, is completely untrue. 

"Oranga Tamariki will not be taking away the children of people who test positive for COVID-19."

"Those sorts of rumours are circulating in the community and it does seem to be circulating particularly in the Māori and Pasifika community… It erodes people's confidence about getting tested.

"People should go and get tested, they should do the right thing and those sorts of rumours certainly don't help," Hikpins said.

A Managed Isolation and Quarantine spokesman echoed Hipkins' comments.

"We have been advised by Ministry of Health that no children are removed from their parents - in most cases the whole household will go into quarantine if a child and/or adult tests positive," the spokesman told Newshub.

It is unclear exactly how the rumour started but it's not the first COVID-19 rumour the Government has been forced to address. 

On Saturday, The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) shut down a harmful rumour circulating on social media that blamed the recent Auckland outbreak on a young woman sneaking into a managed isolation facility. 

The rumour, which originated on Facebook, claimed a member of the family in south Auckland who tested positive visited a man with the virus who was recently deported from Australia. 

But MBIE debunked the myth saying it is false. 

"There is no evidence of an incursion into a managed isolation facility that has had contact with a returnee, other than those that were publicly reported at the time," a managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson told Newshub. 

"No deportees who have returned from Australia to managed isolation have tested positive since Australia resumed their deportations."

Hipkins also addressed the influx of mistruths on Newshub Nation on Saturday, saying officials are spending "quite a lot of time" stopping the spread of rumours and conspiracy theories.

"As soon as there's a positive case we start the contact-tracing process which means that news will spread within a local community about that positive case."

"We're not speaking about each individual case publicly until one o'clock each day because as soon as we do speak about them, we want to be able to answer all of the questions around them. 

"Local communities will know, but there's also a lot of rumours around out there as well... We've spent quite a lot of time dampening down rumours about positive results in Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, and so on. So my message to everybody - the authoritative message - is at one o'clock every day," he said. 

The National Party has been accused of stoking conspiracies around how the virus re-emerged in New Zealand, and when the Government knew about it. 

Deputy leader Gerry Brownlee admitted on Friday he got into a "bad spot" with his line of questioning, which involved suggesting it was "very puzzling" health experts had started talking about the potential inevitability of a new outbreak, the Prime Minister's visit to a mask factory and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield's test for COVID-19, even though he wasn't showing any signs of being infected.

"I, more than most, know what it's like to deal with conspiracy theorists and I'm just not at all comfortable that I might have in any way unleashed some sort of credence to those people because there is no credence in conspiracy theories," Brownlee told Newstalk ZB.