Coronavirus: Judith Collins says waiting for 1pm daily briefings 'adds to the anxiety' of lockdown

Judith Collins is calling on the Government to let Kiwis know sooner, rather than later, whether the lockdown will extend beyond Tuesday.

But Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says they're waiting to see how case numbers go over the weekend before making a decision. 

At the moment, the level 4 restrictions are on until 11:59pm Tuesday, but it's widely expected they'll be extended beyond that with the discovery of infections in Wellington, in addition to Auckland. 

"We're in that part of an outbreak where the number of cases will keep growing," Robertson told Newshub Nation on Saturday, saying "things get worse before they get better".

"We will see more cases in part actually because we've had such an extraordinary response on testing. One thing I do know is yesterday we saw more than 40,000 tests taken around the country, and that will give us a really good insight into where we are."

The peak of the outbreak in early 2020 was 89 cases in a single day, and that came a week after level 4 restrictions came on. The trend from there was downwards, though the Delta variant that's made its way in this time is much more infectious. 

Collins, National Party leader, said her party backed the lockdown. 

"It's obviously a border failure and with such low vaccination rates I don't think there's any alternative - at least for the next few days," she told Newshub Nation, appearing after Robertson. 

If it's going to last longer than that, she wants to know now. Every expert Newshub has spoken to in the past week has said it's inevitable, and it's been recommended by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. 

"What we're going to see in Auckland is certainly more than Tuesday for the lockdown, so if that's what they're thinking, then they need to let people know," said Collins. "The more certainty people have, then the better it is for them. They can plan their lives better. If the Government is very confident then they don't have to do that, then they should say so." 

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

She also took a swipe at the Government's reluctance to release details of new cases and information outside of daily 1pm briefing, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the "single source of truth" when it came to information on the response to COVID-19. 

"Certainty is really helpful for people - not only people in business and small businesses but also for people just trying to go about their lives," said Collins. "A lack of certainty, waiting for a one o'clock announcement every day, this actually adds to the anxiety - it doesn't actually help people that much."

Robertson said it was important to wait until Monday to make a decision on how much longer the lockdown might last for.

"What we wanted to do was make sure we made all of those decisions together with all of the evidence, and we'll give people the outcome of that then." 

He also defended the pace at which information like locations of interest had been released. There has been criticism that health officials have been too slow to let the public know, who might not be aware they've been potentially exposed. 

"The media gets the luxury of just reporting what they hear and not needing to necessarily check or confirm that. We have a different job - our job is to make sure that we get accurate information out to the people of New Zealand," he said.

"There is a process to go through here - the first thing that people need to know is that when someone does get a positive test result immediately, health officials are working with them and their family and close contacts to get them to isolate, so the people who need to know, do know. 

"Then after that the process then is worked on to say, where have you been? What places have you been? It takes some time to confirm that, to get the timings right, the details right. 

"Then there is a process to contact the owners of businesses. I've been interviewed before where we've been criticised for announcing locations of interest before the owner of that business knows. There's a bit of a balance to be struck there - if it's too difficult to find someone, then yes, those locations of interest might be published before that person knows."

Ultimately people should be staying at home if possible, he said, under level 4. 

"Everybody is under level 4 rules and conditions. We do get the information up as soon as we can… We're over 200 locations of interest now. That's a huge load of work to make sure we get accurate details." 

Elsewhere in his interview, Robertson said they were now more than 90 percent sure the outbreak came from the traveller from Australia while he was in MIQ or quarantine. Just how the virus got out remains a mystery however.

"As far as we're aware the person didn't leave their room because they're not allowed to until they get a negative test - in this case the person got a positive test and was transferred to Jet Park." 

They never used the exercise area in MIQ.

"We've had over 160,000 people through MIQ and we have a very small number where things haven't gone the way that we wanted them to. We are investigating this thoroughly and if changes need to be made, they will be made."

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