The Ministry of Health has defended the robustness of its Covid tracing team stating 87 per cent of close contacts of a Covid-19 positive case were contacted within 48 hours.
Dr Shane Reti of the National Party said the Government was failing its own contact tracing performance target, claiming only 52 per cent of contacts in recent cases were isolated within four days - not the ideal 80 per cent.
"Alongside reports from the current Papatoetoe outbreak that contacts were called but not visited, this shows the Government needs to do better with contact tracing," Reti says.
"Dr Ayesha Verrall's audit into the Government's contact tracing regime last year made it clear that our system was lacklustre, and the Government promised to turn this around."
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But the Ministry of Health said its target was that those at risk were contacted - not visited.
It said it was more important the 87 per cent figure was "based on the key indicator – which is the most important indicator for the February cluster – of contacting contacts within 48 hours from when the case was notified.
"There are many different indicators and not all are as relevant."
The Kmart and Dark Vape cohorts were also excluded from the data the 87 percent rate was drawn from.
"This will be reported when the latest Contact Tracing data is published," the ministry said.
Auckland is now on its fifth day in the latest Covid-19 alert level 3 lockdown. The rest of New Zealand is at level 2.
Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield yesterday said it was difficult to put a target on time taken to reach casual and casual plus contacts.
He said importance was put on reaching close contacts because of the higher risk of transmission.
"There's not a specific target there. If we think about the locations of interests, we publicise those locations and the times of interest, we send out a notification via the app, but then those people actually have to come forward," he said.
"However, of course, as soon as we find out about those people, the instructions are the same – to isolate – and then we're in touch with them on a daily basis to ensure they're isolating and testing.
The Ministry of Health had identified more than 1500 at-risk people from exposure to Covid-19 at Papatoetoe High School.
The numbers of at-risk from places of interest linked to the cluster include more than 1800 customers of Kmart Botany, 158 from the gym City Fitness and 90 customers from KFC Botany.
At Kmart, 33 staff members were identified as close-plus contacts. All 33 had tested negative the ministry said.
The MoH was contacted by 1868 people who reported being at Kmart at the times of interest.
They had been asked to isolate for 14 days and be tested at day 5 and day 12 after their exposure to the case.
MoH currently had 1823 negative test results for that group.