Last Thursday, UK-based Kiwi Shelley Grierson discovered her older sister, Rebecca had just months to live - the next day, that prognosis was shortened to a period of "days and weeks".
The doctor urged Rebecca to have family Christmas this week - or else it could be too late.
Now, Grierson is in an MIQ facility, desperate to secure a compassionate exemption to leave early and see Rebecca in Ōmokoroa while there's still time.
But no such exemption has been forthcoming - in fact, she says her application has been turned down four times, despite her being double vaccinated and having returned two negative tests.
Grierson now wonders if a case like hers does not qualify for a compassionate exemption - what case possibly could?
"You can't put people through this," she said.
Grierson said that one part of the system did appear to be working: the allocation of emergency MIQ places, which she was able to secure last week to come home.
But the recognition her case was severe enough for an emergency spot did not translate into a recognition she might need to be allowed out of MIQ earlier.
Doctors at the Waikato District Health Board wrote a letter regarding Grierson's case, which was passed to MIQ.
The letter said "Shelley and her family need to fly over urgently," warning the "window is small and I would very much appreciate if MIQ could be accommodating to facilitate and expedite this".
The letter said Rebecca "no longer has any treatment options" and that the "disease is behaving very aggressively and her life expectancy is very short (days to weeks at most)".
Grierson said she was not seeking an exemption to head into a high-risk areas.
"It's a bedside vigil - we're not going shopping, we're not going to restaurants," she said.
However, MIQ still considered her to be a risk.
Its response to Grierson said that having balanced her circumstances against her risk to public health, the application should be declined.
She was given a Healthline number and the hotline to call a trained counsellor.
Grierson said the message she's been getting from MIQ is that no one is being released in the first seven days of isolation - the new, shorter period of mandatory isolation which came into force this week.
On Wednesday, Covid-19 Reponse Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government had to consider "cumulative risk" when making decisions at the border.
"Even if we are dealing with 100 to 200 cases in the community in New Zealand a day, changes that we make at the border could significantly increase the number of people travelling across the border
"If the positivity ratio stays about the same—so even if we're getting even 10 cases per 1,000—if we're having 5,000 or 6,000 per day coming into the country, that's another 50 or 60 cases potentially coming into the country," Hipkins said.
National's Covid-19 spokesman said this was insulting.
"The Minister of Covid-19 referred to travellers from overseas, Kiwis, as 'cumulative risks' - these are New Zealanders we're talking about, they are humans, they are citizens of this country, who want to come home with full vaccination, without Covid, and see their whanau and friends who in some cases they haven't seen for two years or more," Chris Bishop said.
"This Government is so useless, and so incompetent, it can't sort out the MIQ system to make sure that fully vaccinated travellers can isolate at home and people with Covid can't go into MIQ where they will be treated," he said.
A spokesperson for MIQ said risk assessments had been changing.
A recent change allowed for "travellers from low-risk countries to apply for earlier release than previously".
But there is evidence MIQ has been slow to adapt. Its risk model was only recently revised to take vaccination status into account. Only applications made from October 29 have taken vaccination status into account.
Now, Grierson just wants to go home.
"It would mean a hell of a lot to me, a lot to my sister," Grierson said.
"This isn't an 80-year-old grandparent, it isn't my parents - we expect those things of older people. This is unexpected.
"It's a life ruiner for everyone involved. I cannot imagine facing death in this way," she said.