New Zealand's top health official says he has no idea how many people have left managed isolation without being tested after arriving in New Zealand.
But since Tuesday - when it was revealed that two bereaved women had tested positive after leaving their hotel on compassionate grounds - nobody has been allowed out of quarantine or managed isolation without a negative test, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning, Bloomfield said the mainstay of protecting New Zealand's border had been ensuring people spend 14 days in quarantine or a managed isolation facility.
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For several months people had not been required to be tested before leaving a managed isolation facility. But on June 9, when New Zealand moved to Covid-19 alert level 1, the requirement had also been brought in that people be tested on day 3 and day 12 of their quarantine, whether or not they had symptoms.
"Remembering we moved to alert level 1 very quickly - clearly there was a gap in the implementation," Bloomfield told Hosking. "We've made sure that gap is now closed."
It had also not been clear whether officials could force people to be tested under existing rules, Bloomfield said.
Since the news of the bungle was announced on Tuesday Bloomfield said he had made it clear it was now mandatory to return a negative test before leaving a hotel.
There would be a review of what happened in this case, he said.
While the two cases were revealed on Tuesday, Bloomfield had said they drove non-stop to Wellington without coming in contact with anyone after leaving managed isolation at the Novotel in Ellerslie.
It wasn't until Wednesday that the nation learned the women had met with two friends who had given them directions after they got lost leaving Auckland.
National MP Michael Woodhouse made that claim in Parliament yesterday, saying the women had given a friend a "kiss and a cuddle" before going on their way.
The Ministry of Health later confirmed the women had left the Novotel in a private vehicle provided by two friends. They had then got lost, and called the same two friends who met them and guided them to the motorway.
"As part of this the pair were in limited physical contact with the two friends for approximately five minutes," the Ministry said in a statement last nigh
Bloomfield insisted to Hosking this morning that the women had not lied about their movements.
"They had just lost a parent, they were distraught," he said. "That's why...our public health units do do followup interviews. It's not uncommon for them to elicit other [information].
"The information was elicited at a subsequent interview, it was while they were trying to get out of Auckland, they got lost and went the wrong way - north instead of south - they asked for assistance from their friend."
After a "very short interaction" they had been pointed in the right direction, he said.
The Public Health Unit had found out about that interaction on Tuesday night but had not told the Ministry of Health until Bloomfield inquired on Wednesday afternoon.
He said the "very experienced people" in the PHU did not think that interaction was material or posed any risks.
"I said, anything is material, and let's act decisively."
The friend - who had already been tested - was put into self-isolation. Results for the friend's test were due back today.