The Government has been forced to shift its gaze outside of Auckland as the capacity to isolate returning New Zealanders in the city has been reached.
A team of Government officials is on the hunt for appropriate isolation facilities in New Zealand's regions, as nearly 900 Kiwis are due to arrive home today and tomorrow.
This comes as the Ministry of Health confirmed another two cases of Covid-19 yesterday – one is a child under two.
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In that case, it is the child a Covid-19 positive couple who have recently arrived home from India.
The second case is a 59-year-old woman who travelled from Delhi, arriving in Auckland on June 15 on flight AI1316.
Both cases were recent arrivals from overseas and both were detected within managed isolation facilities.
"These cases show the managed isolation system working as it should," Cabinet Minister Megan Woods – who was taken charge of the Government's isolation and quarantine operations – told media yesterday.
She stressed that as Covid-19 gets worse overseas, more New Zealanders will be looking to come home – "so there is no room for error."
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In recent days, the Government has significantly bolstered its isolation regime.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, who is in charge of the operational side of the isolation and quarantine operations, confirmed yesterday that there are almost 4300 people in managed isolation across New Zealand at the moment.
That compares to the overall total of 20,000 people who have been in isolation at one stage since the pandemic began.
"With more flights expected this week, we are reaching our capacity in Auckland," he said.
Webb said close to 300 people will be arriving in New Zealand today and another 590 tomorrow.
The 18 hotels currently used for managed isolation across the country – most in Auckland – are not enough to deal with the influx, which means Webb has been forced to look outside the main centres – such as Rotorua.
Yesterday, 232 people were bussed from Auckland to Rotorua for a two-week isolated period.
This was a shock to those returning home, who thought they were being isolated in Auckland's Stamford Plaza hotel.
"Everyone responded in disbelief, they thought it was some kind of joke. But it became clear once we really were out of the city limits that we were on our way to Rotorua," one traveller, who did not want to be named, told the Herald.
Just a day prior, residents living at the Stamford Plaza were left scratching their heads as well.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said residents were unaware of the Government's plan to use the hotel as an isolation zone.
"Everyone was in shock and really unhappy.
"About 60 per cent of the residents in the Stamford Plaza are high-risk people," the resident said, in reference to the fact the people most at risk of Covid-19 are older people.
Webb yesterday confirmed that it had been the Government's plan to use the hotel as an isolation facility, but those plans changed after the hotel was given a thorough inspection.
He told media there were issues around a shared air bridge and a shared fire exit.
As a result, plans changed and those who had returned to New Zealand were sent to Rotorua instead.
National's health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said the saga showed that the whole process was a shambles.
"The Government's lack of a clear plan for the use of the hotel as a managed isolation facility and complete lack of communication highlights what a disaster this whole process is," he said.
But Woods said that it actually showed the exact opposite and highlight the fact that the system was working.
"We make no apologies for the fact that we will be agile to ensure we are doing everything we need to keep New Zealanders safe and make sure we have robust isolation facilities."
Meanwhile, Woods confirmed that despite the new cases – New Zealand does not have any cases related to community transmission.
Last week, two Covid-19 positive sisters were incorrectly allowed to travel from Auckland to Wellington to visit a sick family member.
They made contact with at least one person along the way, after getting lost on their trip.
Out of the 386 people being followed up and tested as part of a precautionary approach, 288 negative tests have now been recorded and 25 people are still being contacted, the Ministry of Health confirmed.