Independent review into New Zealand's response to February COVID-19 outbreak finds multiple flaws

An independent review of New Zealand's February COVID-19 outbreak has found a myriad of issues with the Government's response. 

The report cited a lack of coherency, conflicting and confusing messaging that could undermine public confidence. 

It was February 14, Valentines Day, when Auckland moved to COVID-19 alert level 3.

A love lockdown - but there was no love lost. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern criticised 'case L' for going to work - even though health officials told the KFC employee she could. 

And with the introduction of new contact definitions - casual plus, and close plus - it was confusing. 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker says that kind of uncertainty is unacceptable.

"You can't have that kind of confusion, in an outbreak situation, where sometimes every hour counts."

Unsurprising then that an independent review into the February cluster has found a myriad of issues.

The 72-page review is brutally honest. It slams the response as "confusing", "leading to tiredness and burnout" and as having "unnecessary complexity".

It stresses New Zealand is at risk of a large outbreak - which we are not prepared for and accuses the Government of not having followed recommendations to do something about it. 

"We need to do stress tests on the system, with scenarios to cope with several hundred cases at once, which I think is a realistic target," says Baker. 

The Government was the target of more criticism today - over more mixed messaging after it used party branding to herald a Medsafe decision to approve another vaccine.

Grant Robertson said the Party will "take some time to reflect" on the marketing. 

There's plenty to reflect on and act on too.