A Rotorua couple expecting triplets has asked for the public to put pressure on the Ministry of Health after the father's request for a special exemption to cross the Auckland border for their children's birth was rejected today.
Kelvin and Amber Acutt were both allowed into Auckland last week after their doctor determined Amber, who is 28 weeks pregnant, would need to be admitted to Auckland Hospital for constant monitoring. The couple remains together in Auckland now but Kelvin says he will have to return to work in Rotorua if the babies don't arrive this week - at which point he will be stuck outside the city where his wife remains.
"They are looking stable at the moment, which doesn't really mean much," Kelvin Acutt told the Herald, and repeated in a video posted to social media. "It could be six weeks [when they arrive] or it could be tomorrow."
The family, which includes the couple's 14-month-old daughter, simply can't afford to go without work for up to six weeks, Kelvin said, adding that he doesn't want to leave but he has only so much leave. So the best option would be to go home and rush back to Auckland when he gets word that the babies are about to come, he said.
A letter from the Ministry of Health rejecting his proposed travel exemption said three criteria were considered: whether he could delay or avoid travelling; if there was a risk to life, health or safety if the exemption wasn't granted; and the overall risk to public health.
"Based on the information you have given us we have determined your need for travelling
is not essential right now," the letter states.
"We understand this decision will be disappointing for you. The need to protect the wider
New Zealand population from Covid-19, and especially from the new and more
transmissible variants, has meant some restrictions have been put in place."
The Ministry of Health did not immediately respond the Herald's request for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
Kelvin Acutt said he disagrees with the Government agency's assessment, which he described as cold and unnecessarily black and white.
"The thing about triplets a lot of people don't understand is they're very high risk," he said, pointing out that the couple's children were conceived naturally at a chance of about one in 10,000.
There's a good chance the children will be born prematurely, and some of them might need to be resuscitated in the operating room immediately after the C-section, he said.
"It's a traumatic experience," he explained. "So for my wife to have to go through that alone is not something I'm willing to let happen."
The Covid-19 lockdown, he added, "seems a bit pointless if while we're doing that we're losing our humanity".
In a video posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Kelvin Acutt acknowledged he's sharing his family's story for strategic reasons. And he hopes the story will be shared far and wide.
"I've got to make enough noise to make it embarrassing for them not to give me my exemption," he said, adding that he and his wife have been in a scary situation for some time - but especially now.
"This has been absolutely horrible for us to go through," he told the Herald, adding that the latest twist from the Ministry of Health has made it all the more difficult to fathom. "It's like there's no compassion in it at all."