Teams swabbing people in quarantine and managed isolation hotels have at times struggled with incorrect information including names, authorities admit - but a new database is expected to streamline the border defence.

"While there have been instances where returnee information may not have aligned with testing schedules, for example where a name may have been entered in the database incorrectly, testing teams have prepared for this by allowing extra time during visits," a spokesperson for the Covid-19 government response told the Herald.

"No one is able to leave managed isolation unless the clinical team are satisfied they meet the low-risk indicators."

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The Ministry of Health has developed a new oversight system that since mid-July has stored the details of every person arriving into the country. The database is used to track their time in managed isolation or quarantine, and schedule their day three and day 12 tests.

Most of the 32 hotels and facilities holding returnees are now using the new system, and the government spokesperson said "we anticipate this will ensure a much more streamlined process".

Under the old system - which is still running while the new database is rolled out - returnees fill out registration forms when they enter a facility, which are then manually entered into a database overseen by the Aviation Security Service (Avsec).

That process had at times created confusion and extra work for health staff sent in to test potentially Covid-positive returnees.

"While we are aware of some instances where information has been passed on incorrectly or has been delayed, we are confident our overall systems are working very well," the spokesperson said.

"We are constantly working to improve our processes to simplify things for returnees and to ensure information is collected, stored, accessed and disposed of appropriately."

The new database is called the national contact tracing solution - border (NCTS-Border), and can be accessed by various agencies involved in arrival, border triage, check-in at hotels, testing, release and exemptions. Crucially, each person is identified by their national health index number.

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Meanwhile, the Government appears to have reached an agreement about charging Kiwis who opt to travel overseas then go through managed isolation upon their return.


The announcement on the new legislation - which would need to be passed in the final two weeks of Parliament - could be as early as this afternoon.

The Government has been working through Crown legal advice about how to charge returnees with border facilities costing half a billion dollars by the end of the year without impeding the inalienable right to return home. But any charge for returnees would require a law change.

National has previously announced it would charge people $3000 for a managed isolation room and an extra $1000 for an additional person and $500 for each child aged over 16.