Sick Kiwi woman surviving on chicken necks in Lebanon can't get emergency MIQ spot as Govt clears out rooms for Delta outbreak

Newshub can reveal more than 300 managed isolation (MIQ) rooms are being set aside for New Zealand's Delta COVID-19 outbreak, with the Government attempting to balance capacity so desperate Kiwis can still get home. 

One of the Kiwis desperate to get a MIQ voucher is Rachael Bicknell. She's stuck in Lebanon - sick, scared, starving and surviving on chicken necks.

She's applied for an emergency spot in MIQ - but her mum Moata McNamara is worried.

"I'm really, really frightened she's going to die over there," McNamara told Newshub.

Bicknell has a lump in her groin and has run out of medication. In her application for an emergency MIQ spot, she told the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE): "I fear for my health and safety while I remain in Lebanon.

"I cannot afford to go to another doctor, let alone have any tests done," the application said.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was asked on Wednesday at what point commonsense or compassion came into the emergency MIQ decision-making process.

"It's difficult to comment on an individual case without knowing the details of that case," he said.

Despite Bicknell being unable to afford a doctor, MBIE has told Newshub it needs a letter from a medical professional or a letter proving her safety is at risk. The ministry suggested she try the nearest embassy - but that's in Egypt.

And with Delta COVID-19 cases continuing to climb in New Zealand, MIQ hotels are being cleared out for people who are sick or need to isolate. 

If this current outbreak reaches the 1000 cases some modellers predict, a lot of MIQ rooms will be needed. In Wellington, all 38 rooms at the Grand Mecure will be used for community COVID-19 cases and all 32 rooms at the Bay Plaza will be used to isolate close contacts. 

In Auckland, all 251 rooms at the Holiday Inn are now for close contacts. 

And at the Jet Park quarantine facility, which is just for confirmed COVID-19 cases, there are 202 rooms. One wing will be for returnees and the other for community cases.

"We could continue to repurpose other MIQ facilities but then we have to balance that up with pressure we have of people coming in who have vouchers," Hipkins said on Wednesday.

He promised there'll be changes on Thursday for Kiwis in urgent situations.