Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says new Covid cases in the community could be put into quarantine or managed isolation facilities.

Her comments follow previous advice from director general of health Ashley Bloomfield who had wanted to do that for all cases from alert level 2.

Bloomfield's views are revealed in hundreds of official documents that were released yesterday about the Government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis from April 17 to May 29.

In advice provided to Health Minister David Clark on May 1, when New Zealand was in alert level 3, Bloomfield was cautious of people's increased contact under level 2.


"In the event of a case being confirmed, I intend to require that person to enter managed isolation until such time as they have recovered.

"Similarly, their contacts will be required to enter self-isolation and will be actively monitored including up to twice daily visits to monitor their location and any symptoms."

During this time, Cabinet was also advised that the Government was essentially flying blind on whether people with Covid-19 were self-isolating as expected.

Asked about his advice during a visit to Queenstown yesterday, Ardern said it could be implemented if new cases popped up in the community.

"It still remains very much an option that if we have Covid cases, we could use those facilities for that purpose. We haven't ruled that option out."

Currently all people arriving over the border, including passengers on a repatriation flight from Korea that landed in Wellington yesterday, are put into quarantine or managed isolation for 14 days.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield wanted Covid-19 cases placed into managed isolation from alert level 2. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield wanted Covid-19 cases placed into managed isolation from alert level 2. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Yesterday there was one new case, a Kiwi who flew in from Kenya and has been moved to Jet Park Hotel, where other confirmed cases and symptomatic people are in quarantine.

He was tested as part of routine testing on day three.


There are now 14 active cases in New Zealand, all in managed isolation or quarantine facilities. There are no confirmed cases in the community.

Papers to Cabinet also reveal that Bloomfield's initial timeline for moving to level 1 was far more cautious.

It would have seen New Zealand staying in level 2 until July 20 because he had wanted two weeks with a 10-person limit on gatherings, a further two weeks with the limit at 50, and then 28 days - two incubation periods - with the limit at 100 people.

But the case numbers and community transmission cases were far less severe than expected, and Bloomfield eventually recommended jumping straight from the 10-person limit to the 100-person limit.

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When Cabinet eventually decided to move to level 1, on June 8, it had been two and a half weeks since the last locally transmitted case, but more than two months since the last significant community transmission case.

Ardern said there was "by and large" consensus between Bloomfield and Cabinet about the move.

Economic considerations were also a factor. A Treasury estimate put the economic costs of three weeks longer at level 2 at around $1.4 billion in lost output.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson rejected Treasury advice in April for a cash-in-hand grant scheme for businesses to help prevent them from collapsing.

The National Party had been pushing for such a scheme, which Treasury estimated would cost $6.5 million - just over half the cost of the first phase of the Government's wage subsidy scheme.

The documents also reveal concerns about the quality of Covid data, the turnaround speed of testing and stocks of certain PPE on the day that Ardern announced the country would move to level 3 - April 20.

A weekly monitoring report to Cabinet said there was sufficient testing capacity but "the average speed of the process needs to improve".

And while a drop in daily cases and few people in hospital pointed to a lack of community transmission, issues remained about the quality of data "regarding source of transmission" and the lack of regular contact-tracing metrics.

The weekly report also included a stocktake of PPE supplies for April 20, the day of Ardern's D-Day announcement.

The number of masks, gowns and face shields was good, but there were not enough gloves or disposable aprons, and barely enough supplies of glasses.

PPE was an issue on which Ardern and Bloomfield gave repeated assurances, despite frequent complaints from those on the healthcare frontlines.

A recent report on PPE from the Auditor-General found that the ministry had no idea how much personal protective equipment (PPE) it had, how much it needed, what had expired and how it should be distributed.