Community isolating could be an option
People may be able to bypass a managed isolation and quarantine facility and isolate at home in the ‘‘longer term’’, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday.
The Government was looking at longer term ‘‘alternative isolation options’’ which could include self-isolating at home for people returning from overseas, but Hipkins could not put a timeframe on any changes.
‘‘It’s not going to happen this year I don’t think, and certainly in the early part of next year I imagine that things are going to continue much the same way as they have been,’’ he said during a vaccination update.
It followed requests from people who wanted to isolate at home, rather than go into managed isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as businesses and universities who said they could run their own isolation processes.
‘‘They haven’t suited us up to this point because of all the logistics involved and the increased risk involved in them, but as we look to a different kind of approach to Covid-19 risks, as the proportion of people vaccinated is higher [and] as the spread of Covid-19 around the rest of the world starts to turn down . . . all different kinds of possibilities come back onto the table.’’
The Government was already setting up a nationwide community managed isolation and quarantine scheme in the event of an outbreak outside a city with managed isolation facilities, Director-general of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
Taranaki and Nelson Marlborough district health boards were now advertising for local coordinators, and work on the service began last July.
‘‘We have asked each DHB to look at what arrangements they could get in place locally to be able to safely isolate cases and contacts of cases, so that is what that advert relates to,’’ he said.
‘‘Different DHBS are putting in place contingency plans so if necessary they could isolate people safely in their local community without having to go into a managed isolation facility.’’
Hipkins said people in Tokoroa connected to the August outbreak isolated outside managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said community managed isolation and quarantine would help people self-isolate at home, and address inequities which could be exacerbated by this.
Funding was also available for local accommodation options if someone wasn’t able to selfisolate at home, and it wasn’t appropriate to move them to a facility.
It was also a response to interfamily transmission of Covid-19, which had resulted in extended periods of isolation and quarantine, but community cases and contacts whose needs were best met in an MIQ facility would continue to be transferred there, they said.
Bloomfield warned the pandemic was far from over with cases on the rise around the world. His warning included the United Kingdom where more than 50,000 cases were being reported each day. Globally, cases increased by more than 30 per cent in the last two weeks.