So our outstanding daily run of ducks for new Covid infections was broken yesterday after it was reported that two visitors, here for the death of a family member, tested positive.
This brings into stark relief a debate that happened just over a month ago. At the time there were repeated claims that the Government was being too cruel some alleged. They should be more compassionate. The Government was being too hard. It was pushed for all it was worth, despite the visiting of hospitals and the gathering of people in close proximity to each other being clear risks for the spread of the disease.
There was one particular case in early May where a son applied urgently for an order allowing him to see his dying father. He had arrived in New Zealand on April 23, has no symptoms of COVID-19 and was monitored by health professionals at the facility every two days. His request was refused by the Ministry of Health. On Judicial Review the refusal was overturned on May 1, 2020. The refusal appeared to be really cruel but when you are dealing with a world wide pandemic policy responses are always cruel.
The decision of Judge Walker said this:
 I have balanced other material factors in the exercise of my discretion. These are principally the public health and safety concerns and the potential ramifications of the grant of relief. I am satisfied that the restrictive conditions I imposed, which include directing the respondent to stipulate additional reasonable conditions, addresses the question of risk.
 I have also considered the question of the appropriate deference to the expertise of the decision makers in a time of unprecedented public crisis. No matter how necessary or demonstrably justified the COVID-19 response, decisions must have a clear and certain basis. They must be proportionate to the justified objective of protecting New Zealand bearing in mind the fundamental civil rights at issue – freedom of movement and of assembly in accordance with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
 In this particular case, there is a very strong argument that the permission for Mr Christiansen to visit his dying father was not considered on the correct legal grounds and did not take account of relevant mandatory considerations. It had the hallmarks of automatic rejection based on circumscribed criteria rather than a proper exercise of discretion required by the Health Act (Managed Air Arrivals) Order. Indeed, the respondent responsibly acknowledges that on the face of the documentary record, one of the grounds of review can be made out.
The decision was in legal terms conventional. It did however have a chilling effect on MoH’s response. There is nothing that medical people hate more than having to go into court to justify their decisions which on the face of it appear to be cruel given the extenuating circumstances of a family member dying.
So the system was loosened up.
Then we had the news yesterday that we have two new infections.
The screening arrangements appear to be sub optimal. Why the individuals involved were not tested is clearly something that will be investigated further. If it was up to me every single person presenting themselves at the boarder should be tested. And before they are permitted to leave quarantine they should be tested again.
I suspect the stuff up theory applies and an operational mistake was made. This really does highlight how New Zealand should be protecting its borders. This is backed up by this article in the Herald by Derek Cheng. He said:
Leave may be granted to see a dying loved one or to grieve a death in a small group, but only if you’ve been in the country for at least a week and have tested negative for Covid-19.
However the rules were put in place on June 9 and the two women arrived on June 7. They were tested in Wellington and returned the positive tests.
It seems callous and cruel but the rationale is clear. There should be no exceptions to the policy. Otherwise we face the possibility of going back into level 4 lockdown.
Surges of infections in Singapore and more recently China show how pernicious the virus is. We should be taking no change with it.
National has received a glimmer of hope in the news. Todd Muller has engaged in the most extraordinary somersault in recent political history and complained about lax arrangements while at the same time he has argued that we should loosen up the boarder to allow students in and a bubble formed with Australia. Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth.
It just makes him sound confused.
Fingers crossed that the persons involved were extremely careful and that the steps they have taken were sufficient to stop the spread of the disease. But if we are going to beat this bastard of a virus we will need our systems working better than they did on this occasion.