Health Minister Chris Hipkins says he is frustrated and disappointed the Government was misled about the level of Covid-19 testing of frontline border staff.

But he says he is working quickly to mitigate the issue and yesterday signed an order making it compulsory for all staff working at the border to be tested.

This comes after Hipkins admitted that just 60 per cent of all frontline border working at the Jet Park hotel - the country's main Covid-19 quarantine centre - are being tested at least once a week.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed by that," he told the Nation this morning.

"It has been frustrating – things have not moved as quickly as I would like."


But National leader Judith Collins said it was "extremely disappointing" and "simply not good enough".

"I think more disappointed are the five million New Zealanders who have all been playing our part and have suddenly found we have been let down," she told the programme.

She revealed National would be unveiling its own border policy in the coming week.

National Party leader Judith Collins says the level of border testing is
National Party leader Judith Collins says the level of border testing is "extremely disappointing" and "simply not good enough". Photo / Mark Mitchell

Hipkins said this morning testing at the border had not been happening at the rate the Government had been asking for, or at the level the Government was told was happening.

"We were told several weeks ago that testing of all staff at the Jet Park were being tested every week."

So sure of that advice was Hipkins that he put it in a June 23 press release, headlined: "New Covid-19 testing strategy to keep New Zealand safe".

That new strategy included "regular health checks and asymptomatic testing of all border facing workers".

But that has clearly not been happening.

New Zealand will maintain its current lockdown settings for 12 more days. That would mean the current settings will be in place for 14 days - or one full incubation period. Video / Chris Tarpey

Hipkins said one of the barriers was a reluctance among staff to be tested.

That had changed since the new outbreak hit New Zealand's shores on Tuesday, he said.

Over the past two days, the majority of staff working in managed isolation or quarantine have been tested.

The rest will get a test within the next 24 hours.

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"I want everyone focused full tilt on getting things right now and making sure that all of the testing that needs to be done, is being done," Hipkins said.

He said there was no evidence to suggest the new strain of Covid-19 had come through the border in a person-to-person contact way.


The Government is still trying to work out how the virus re-entered the country.

"It's one of the things that makes this particular set of cases very challenging and a real puzzle."