A retiree who underwent life-saving heart surgery in Australia is pleading with Government officials to let him out of MIQ to quarantine at his Wellington home.
Richard Tweedie, who is staying at the Sheraton by Four Points in downtown Auckland, is desperate to be relocated to continue specialist treatment after landing back in New Zealand this week.
The 75-year-old said while he had managed to secure a place on an emergency flight home, his application to quarantine in his Wellington home had been denied, and staying in his managed isolation "prison" was affecting his health.
However, a managed isolation and quarantine spokeswoman said they hadn't found an application for exemption from managed isolation from Tweedie since he arrived in New Zealand.
"We understand that being in managed isolation can be challenging. We advise returnees that information and tools are available to help them feel supported to get through isolation", the spokeswoman said.
Returnees' first point of contact was the on-site health staff and if Tweedie had access to medical information, which would help staff help him, he should provide that.
"This is followed by daily health checks carried out in person or on the phone. These are led by the on-site health team.
"Nurses are available 24/7 at the facilities to support returnees and help them access care. If returnees have any concerns for their health and wellbeing, it is important for them to talk with a health professional."
He was afraid of contracting Covid, Tweedie said, as his isolation hotel filled up with people flying in from Singapore and Hong Kong after he had been assured only those from New South Wales would be in the same facility.
"I'm highly vulnerable. I am allowed to get out and walk on my own, which I appreciate, but I've been trying to stay away from people."
He'd returned three negative tests in the past week and was on day three of a 14-day stint in managed isolation.
A small concrete carpark had been converted into an exercise yard with a huge vent that constantly expelled cooking fumes that he had to walk by, and that wasn't healthy for him to inhale.
The set-up was "absolutely insane", he said.
After undergoing a serious heart operation - the type of which wasn't offered in New Zealand - on June 9 at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, his recuperation was now being compromised.
Medical issues were developing and MIQ officials appeared to be having difficulty getting specialist help for him, he claimed.
"I was in right heart-sided heart failure. It was serious. I probably was going to be hospitalised in a few months' time. I was getting very breathless and my condition was going downhill very rapidly.
"I had some real heart issues but I should be in cardiac rehabilitation. My heart needs monitoring and my pacemaker needs adjusting and my medicine needs reviewing and I'm getting none of that in this place."
Tweedie had requested to do his isolation at home on the grounds he was more vulnerable than most returnees, but was denied permission.
"When you try and look after yourself and save the taxpayer money, you're locked up like a criminal. I could be safe at home self-isolating where I could look after myself, not locked up in a bloody two-by-six prison. "
Managed isolation facilities were equipped to deal with medical needs that didn't require hospital-level care, the managed isolation and quarantine spokeswoman said.
"If Mr Tweedie's condition can no longer be managed in the facility, or there is an emergency, he may be transported to hospital to ensure he receives appropriate care."
If returnees need to attend urgent medical appointments during their stay, this could be arranged by the on-site manager with advice from a medical professional.
Anyone who needed help with daily living activities such as mobilising, showering, and dressing should apply for a family member or support person to join them in managed isolation.
Decisions on exemptions from managed isolation were made with the health and safety of the public at the forefront and for that reason the threshold was "extremely high", the spokeswoman said.
"An exemption will only be approved where we can be confident that the health risk of transmission is very low or we cannot meet the medical needs of the returnee in the facility.
"The needs of people facing exceptional circumstances will be balanced with the need to protect the New Zealand public from Covid-19. It is very unlikely that an exemption request would be granted where we can meet their medical needs in the facility. "