COMMENT:

Earlier this week I suspected that we should feel a degree of sympathy for the family that broke out of isolation in Hamilton last weekend.

Now I'm sure we should.

This is not to say that I condone their actions. I don't. Breaking out of the hotel was stupid, and they should all now, as they are, face the consequences of doing that.

Advertisement

But, sympathy is not the same as support. I feel sympathy for them. When you hear their version of events it is exactly as suspected: the Ministry of Health dicked that family around.

According to the mum, she'd gone out of her way to organise a way for her kids to see their dad's body before his burial. This was Friday. He was being buried on Saturday.

A plan had been organised for the man's body to be brought from Auckland to Hamilton, and for her and the kids to be able to spend an hour alone with him, to keep any chance of Covid-19 spread to a minimum. And by the way, they all tested negative so that possibility was already low.

She had the support of the Defence Force and the isolation management team. She just needed the Ministry of Health to agree.

Distinction Hotel in Hamilton with beefed-up security fencing to prevent quarantine residents from escaping. Photo / Belinda Feek
Distinction Hotel in Hamilton with beefed-up security fencing to prevent quarantine residents from escaping. Photo / Belinda Feek

They were told they'd get a phone call at 4pm.

Then they were told they would get a phone call at 5pm.

And by 6pm, they still had no answer.

Now come on. That is the Ministry of Health dicking them around. They were watching the hours tick down and the possibility of getting that body down to Hamilton fade away.

Advertisement

The Ministry of Health can tell us now that they were planning to give her permission but that's easy to say. We'll never know if it's true.

So, in desperation, she broke out to try to get her kids to Auckland. Again, I want to stress, I don't condone her actions. But I have sympathy for her because she is a mum to children who wanted to see their father before he was buried. That is a really tough thing to go through.

I'm once again disappointed in the Ministry of Health for once again failing to exercise compassion. We saw it during lockdown when they made the decision to let dying people pass away without any family members present. We saw it when they prevented people in isolation from saying goodbye to relatives before they died. We know this position is wrong because a court overturned it.

If the Ministry of Health wants people in isolation to act decently, it should start by treating them decently.