COVID-19: Woman dies while daughter in Canada is waiting for managed isolation spot

The COVID-19 Response Minister has made a plea to Kiwis abroad not to book a summer holiday home.

It comes after the pause on bookings for managed isolation (MIQ) spots was extended. That's because two of the MIQ hotels have been taken out of action to be turned into quarantine facilities, housing New Zealanders infected by its Delta outbreak.

Vicky Edwards wanted to bring her family home from Canada at the start of the pandemic but heeded the Government's advice to shelter in place.

"It became quite desperate for us to come home," Edwards told Newshub.

She's been battling to get a MIQ spot but mum Susan promised it would be OK, and one would free up soon.

"She died the next morning," Vicky explains. "That's the reality of what's been happening."

COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins hopes to reopen MIQ bookings in the next few weeks but the pause has made it tougher to get a spot to get home for Christmas.

"We are asking Kiwis abroad to play their part in this response by being patient," Hipkins said. "I acknowledge that is a very challenging thing to ask of them.

"Now is not a good time to come home for a holiday with the intention of returning back to where you are - we do need you to play your part in allowing those vouchers to be available for those with the greatest need."

When MIQ bookings do reopen, the system will be different. Large room releases will be notified and there will be a virtual waiting list.

That comes after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment told Newshub last week a waitlist would be "extremely complex" and present other challenges, saying it's not a silver bullet that will fix a supply and demand problem.

Meanwhile, Hipkins said people who miss out on a place will have to try again.

"Once all the rooms have been taken, the lobby will be closed."

But there's still hope for people who need a room urgently.

"People who are in desperate need to come home urgently can still make an application for an emergency allocation," Hipkins said.

That now includes grieving Kiwis who've lost a close relative if they apply within seven days of the death, need to get back to New Zealand because their loved one died here, or need to travel overseas for the funeral but there aren't any return spots in MIQ.

But that's come too late for Vicky Edwards.

"If that had been a week ago we could have," she said.  

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