Jacinda Ardern rubbishes Unite against COVID-19 Facebook post that contradicted her

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rubbished a comment posted by the Government's official Unite against COVID-19 Facebook page that contradicted her. 

Last week was dominated by accusations made by a COVID-positive KFC worker that the Government did not give her clear instructions to self-isolate when she was supposed to. 

The 19-year-old, known as Case L, ended up in a war of words with the Prime Minister, who said the KFC worker should have been isolating at home instead of going to work. 

But a Facebook post by the official Unite against COVID-19 website backed up Case L's claims, saying the KFC worker was "not required to isolate" at the time she went to work. 

National leader Judith Collins asked Ardern in Parliament on Tuesday if she agreed with the Facebook post, and the Prime Minister rubbished the suggestion that official health advice would be posted in a comment section on social media. 

"I don't have personal responsibility for the individual comments that are made in response to comments on a Facebook page and nor as I understand do those responses go through Health, who ultimately are the ones that provide the advice on what people should or shouldn't be doing when they're isolating," Ardern said. 

"Obviously I do not agree with what was stated. I stand by the health advice that was issued quite publicly."

ACT leader David Seymour asked Ardern if that means the public should not listen to advice posted on the official Unite against COVID-19 website. 

"Is the Prime Minister's advice to the public to listen to the comments on the Government's official Facebook page but not the posts, or is it listen to the posts but not the comments? This is getting more confusing by the moment."

Ardern said she was "clearly identifying" that the statement made in the comment section was "conflicting advice and was not correct".

"What we've said was that the advice was clear. The students at that school needed to be tested. We unfortunately had a case where that did not happen for the better part of eight days. But never have I implied that anything was done deliberately. The vast majority of those school members were tested."

Jacinda Ardern rubbishes Unite against COVID-19 Facebook post that contradicted her

What happened?

Case L is part of one of four infected families connected the Papatoetoe High School COVID-19 cluster that sparked the most recent alert level 3 lockdowns in Auckland. 

Case L told Newshub last week that her sister, Case I, received a text message on February 14 - the day of the Valentine's Day outbreak - saying casual contacts needed to self-isolate but their families did not. 

Case L said she saw the text message her sister received and went to work at KFC on February 22. Case L's sister, Case J, was also deemed a 'casual plus' contact and worked at Kmart Botany on February 19 and February 20.  

On February 23, Case I and Case J tested positive. Case L tested positive three days later on February 26 - last Friday. On that day, Ardern told reporters Case L "should have" stayed at home instead of working on February 22. 

Case L told Newshub she expected an apology from the Prime Minister because she went to work the day before her siblings tested positive - which the Unite against COVID-19 Facebook post backed up. 

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins leapt to Ardern's defence, saying Facebook post was missing context that Cases I and J were already showing symptoms on February 19 and 20 - before Case L went to work. 

"The reality is there is certainly enough information there that the person shouldn't have been going to work," Hipkins said. "I think that's the point that the Prime Minister was making. I think it's a very fair point to be making."

The Government announced on Tuesday a new independent group will ensure the COVID-19 response continues to adapt. Hipkins said one of the considerations will be whether public communication has been clear enough.