Health Department under fire: Minister doesn’t want Ashley Bloomfield to resign over failed tests
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the outbreak to 142,321, of which 123,836 are still active. Video / NZ Herald
The minister for the response to Covid says he does not want the director general of health to resign after a failure which left tens of thousands of samples untested for more than a week.
Yesterday Dr Ashley Bloomfield apologized for the approximately 32,000 test samples that were delayed in processing.
Minister Chris Hipkins today acknowledged the situation and said the government had acted on information from the Department of Health but did not want Bloomfield to resign.
“It is clear in this case that the advice they provided [about testing capacity] for us and for the public, did not correspond to what the laboratories were finally able to provide. »
Hipkins said there would be plenty of time for a review in due course – but until then the focus should be on the here and now.
If the exams begin to impede ongoing work, then they could do more damage, Hipkins said.
He said their focus now was to ensure the deployment of RATs was as smooth as possible and to eliminate the remaining backlog of tests.
National MP Chris Bishop said in a press release today that the government must stop ‘throwing Ashley Bloomfield under the bus’ and take responsibility for her failures.
“The government didn’t order enough rapid tests, soon enough. That’s why we’re in this mess now, with people having to wait hours for a test and days for a result.
“The government needs to stop blaming officials for their own incompetence and stop hiding whenever the going gets tough.”
Bloomfield said yesterday that around 12,000 of the delayed tests had been retested via PCR or RAT tests, it added. Some of the results, when returned, may be less sensitive than usual due to the delay.
The delays could have been minimized if the problems had been recognized earlier, he said, and around 9,000 tests were sent to Queensland over the weekend to help clear the backlog.
The use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) has helped ease pressure on testing capacity in recent days, Bloomfield said.
Hipkins warned people not to stock up and be patient when trying to access RAT tests.
He said more sites were being created and testing was “literally coming all the time”.
“The older your tests are, the less accurate they are, so we don’t want people to store it up,” Hipkins said.
It came as New Zealand hit a record 22,152 new community cases of Covid-19 today.
Hipkins announced a record 405 people hospitalized with Covid-19. Of these, 10 are in intensive care or HDUs across New Zealand.
As the number of cases continued to rise, the main parameters that health officials focused on were those that required high levels of care such as hospitalization.
The message to all New Zealanders was that high vaccination fees made a difference in how New Zealand weathered the outbreak, Hipkins said.
Of the 405 people hospitalized, five are in Northland, 56 in North Shore, 142 in Middlemore, 108 in Auckland, 37 in Waikato, 12 in Bay of Plenty, five in Rotorua: three in Tairawhiti, one in Hawke’s Bay, four in Taranaki, two in MidCentral, two in Hutt Valley, 11 in Capital and Coast, six in Nelson Marlborough, 10 in Canterbury and one in Southern DHB.
The average age of people currently hospitalized is 52 years old.
Among those hospitalized in the North region, 14.7% are not vaccinated or not eligible, 2.4% have been partially vaccinated, 47.3% have been double vaccinated and 19.4% have received a booster . The vaccination status of 15.9% of cases is unknown.