MIQ system penalises Southern family

The flaws of the MIQ system have been highlighted in a Southern family’s traumatic and lengthy battle to return to their home, Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says.

“My heart goes out to the Williamson family, who spent 26 days in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) in Auckland, at the Novotel Ellerslie.

“This Dunedin family, with links to Invercargill, has endured what can only be described as MIQ hell – suffering the fiasco that managed isolation has become in this country.

“I say it’s wrong and that it highlights why MIQ is no longer viable.

“The Williamson family entered MIQ on January 16, after returning from Australia having all tested Covid-free. However, their nightmare began five days later when daughter Luca (9) tested positive with Omicron, which her mother Casey believes she contracted at the crowded MIQ testing area where the family were placed on arrival in New Zealand.

“Daughter Sam (11) then tested positive on January 28, which meant the family’s stay was extended again.

“Finally after health staff advised her husband Mike, who remained Covid-free, to isolate in a separate hotel room, he and the two older girls were able to return home to Dunedin on Thursday. Then in a new development, Casey confirmed to me yesterday that she and Maya (5), both who had also been Covid-free for the entire 26 days, were given medical permission to leave early and return home today (Saturday).

“During their isolation in Auckland I offered my support to Casey, who grew up in Riverton, because I believe the MIQ system unfairly penalised this family.

“And despite being hugely relieved at finally heading home, Casey tells me she is frustrated at how her family’s MIQ stay transpired - with what should have been a 10-day stint blowing out to almost a month. She says it was total overkill and completely unnecessary.

“I say the system is broken and punitive – especially now that Kiwis around the country can isolate at home, while this family and others have been forced to languish in a hotel in Auckland for weeks.

“National continues to call for MIQ to be scrapped and for isolation stays to be shortened.

“Families, like the Williamson’s, should not have to endure this kind of unnecessary hardship and misery, reflecting how flawed and ineffective MIQ is.

“It’s wrong that Kiwis should be suffering in this way with a Government that just isn’t prepared to show any compassion, or common sense, when it comes to ending the misery that managed isolation has become.”