Why Ashley Bloomfield smirked at Gerry Brownlee's questioning of the Director-General's COVID-19 test

National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee came out swinging on Wednesday questioning the timing of the Prime Minister's visit to a mask factory and the Director-General of Health's COVID-19 test on Monday. 

Brownlee suggested it was an "interesting series of facts".

"You had the Prime Minister's visit to the mask factory yesterday - or Monday was it - along with Dr Bloomfield after 103 days of no community transmission having a test himself," Brownlee said.

"All very interesting things to have happened a matter of hours before there was a notification of the largest residential part of New Zealand going into level 3 lockdown."

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked about Brownlee's conspiratorial tone, the Director-General could be seen smirking to himself. 

When asked why, he said: "I was just smiling at the thought of the swab I had yesterday."

He tested negative and says he only took it to lead by example.

The dissolution of Parliament has been delayed in case the election needs to be put off due to confirmed COVID-19 community transmission in Auckland, and campaigning has been suspended - but not the political scrapping.

The Opposition has been questioning whether the Prime Minister has been up front with all the facts about the latest cases.

"If it was ever found that they've lied about that I think she'd have to resign," ACT leader David Seymour said on Wednesday.

"Is that the only facts that she has and the only advice she had?" asked National Party leader Judith Collins.

The Prime Minister hit back at the Opposition's claims.

"I've heard suggestion we may have had this information earlier than we have said. There is no reason why we would ever do that."

Here's the Government timeline:

  • At 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon medical officials found out about the positive test.
  • The person with COVID-19 and their family were self-isolated.
  • Dr Bloomfield was told 10 minutes later.
  • At 4pm the Prime Minister was told after an event.
  • There was additional rapid testing of the family.
  • At 7pm Ardern arrived at Parliament and met with the Minister of Health then other ministers.
  • She briefed Opposition leader Judith Collins. 
  • At 9.20pm the public was told - seven hours after the positive result.

"The idea that something only happens once we inform the public is incorrect," Ardern said. "As soon as a result is received, that person goes into isolation - everyone around them goes into isolation - contact tracing starts straight away."

She said the Government took immediate action.

"Erring on the side of caution is moving the entire country to level 2 and an entire city to level 3 in less than 12 hours after being informed of a case."

Auckland has been cut off from the rest of the country - sacrificed for the greater good. Rotorua could be next because two members of the Auckland family's COVID-19 cases visited the tourism hot spot last weekend.

"I know how hugely frustrating this current situation is for every single member of our team of 5 million," Ardern said.

All Aucklanders are encouraged to wear face masks - it's strongly recommended though not yet required, except on flights leaving Auckland, that's a must.

"We could still see mandated mask use," Ardern said. "We haven't done that as yet - one of my concerns is that not everyone will be prepared."

Rest homes and aged care facilities went into full lockdown at midday.