The COVID-19 points system making it near impossible for Kiwis to get compassionate exemption from MIQ

It is near-impossible to get a compassionate exemption from the Government to leave managed isolation to see a sick or dying loved one.

Newshub has obtained the criteria used to determine who can get a pass out, and it's tough - it's meant just 1 percent of all applicants have been given temporary release.

Nena Viohola's body is laying in rest at the family home, decorated in white, and red - her favourite colour.

Her daughter Tapaita is stuck in managed isolation. She just wants to say goodbye, but the closest she could get was the funeral procession coming to her.

Seeing Tapaita so heartbroken was too much for niece Soana Nielsen - she couldn't watch.

"She heard the motorbikes but didn't know how to get to the foyer. She sprinted," Nielsen said.

The family has even COVID-proofed the house just in case Tapaita gets a pass out. On Thursday they'll sing into the night, and at dawn, they'll bury Nena.

The family needs last-minute compassion from the Government. It's a near-impossible fight - not just for this family but for all those seeking compassionate exemptions.

Of the more than 3500 requests made since July last year, just 48 were given temporary passes out - 1 percent of all requests.

Just 65 people were allowed to leave early - most only a few hours before their mandatory 14-day stay was up.

"Ultimately we have to make sure we're managing our managed isolation and our border in a way that's managing the risk," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Tapaita has come from Australia - she's low-risk.

And Newshub can reveal how officials decide who gets out: a basic points system which they're calling 'the health matrix' - ten points and you're declined compassion.

There's a checklist that includes:

  • where you've come from (a high-risk country is five points)
  • the number of countries you've visited
  • the number of airports you've transited
  • the amount of time you have left in isolation (four points for seven days or more)
  • if you want to attend a funeral or tangi (five points)

"The system is a crude one," barrister Aidan Cameron said. "There's a real lack of transparency around it and it could be drastically improved."

The Government's refusing to reassess the exemption criteria and whether it's too tough. Each of those 3500 requests represents families like Tapaita's.

This rigid points-based system is missing a key component: compassion.