The New Zealand Herald

Woman in MIQ goes on hunger strike after refusing test

- Ben Leahy

A woman is on a hunger strike in a Christchur­ch managed isolation hotel, claiming she’s been kept longer than 14 days because she refused a Covid-19 test.

Priszallia Hawkins said she began her hunger strike on Sunday in protest against being kept in managed isolation despite having no sign of illness.

“I have been in detention and isolation for 18 days now against my will, and I have displayed no signs of being unwell or sick with anything,” she said in a statement.

“I am protesting that my rights have been breached and this is unacceptab­le in a so-called free and democratic society.”

Hawkins, who had travelled from Australia, said she had refused a test and “was being punished for it”.

The Government’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine department said it wouldn’t comment on an individual case without a privacy waiver but confirmed it could hold people with no signs of Covid in managed isolation for up to 28 days if they refused a test.

A second traveller, Guy Davies, was also being kept in managed isolation longer than 14 days for refusing a Covid test, the statement said.

The department said the MIQ system was a cornerston­e of NZ’s Covid19 response and mandated in law to limit the risk of an outbreak.

“If a person does not have their final day-12 test, they will be required to stay in isolation or quarantine until they meet the low-risk indicators, up to a maximum of 28 days,” MIQ said.

People refusing their day-12 test are offered a test each day thereafter. If they agree, show a negative result and meet the standard exit health criteria, they can leave, MIQ said.

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