Covid-19: Reviews strengthen MIQ system to prevent future outbreaks

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Watch Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and the Head of MIQ Jim Bliss speak about findings of reviews to strengthen MIQ systems by preventing future outbreaks.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Ministry of Health collaborated this morning to review reports into in-facility transmission of Covid-19 at the Grand Millennium and Grand Mercure managed isolation facilities.

Both incidents happened earlier this year, but the reports have been released today. Several recommendations have been made to welcome action and response, which is well underway.

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Source: CC/ Sam Hudson [Wgtn]

Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Brigadier Jim Bliss says the reports conclude that aerosol transmission is regarded as a plausible pathway.

“MIQ has served New Zealand well, helping to bring more than 140,000 people here safely, while protecting freedoms that we all now enjoy,” said Brigadier Bliss.

“The MIQ system is something that continually evolves and changes – which reflects the changing nature of the Covid-19 virus. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we review incidents to ensure we capture any learnings and make any necessary changes. We also work proactively with other external agencies, like the Ombudsman, who regularly review MIQ.

“We, along with the Ministry of Health, have taken a really close look at what went on with these cases in March and April, not least to see how we can strengthen the wider MIQ system. Each of the reports includes a number of recommendations for improvements, which are either complete or underway.”

 Both the Grand Mercure and Grand Millennium were emptied out, and a full on-site assessment of the ventilation systems were done.

They will remain unoccupied for as long as necessary to carry out the work.

Extensive reviews and remediation of ventilation systems across all managed isolation facilities are also underway.

Source: CC/ Sam Hudson [Wgtn]

Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield added that returnees coming into New Zealand and the wider community can feel confident that the MIQ system is working.

“I want to reassure the New Zealand public that the overall risks to returnees of contracting Covid-19 within one of our managed isolation or quarantine facilities and taking it into the community has been, and continues to be, assessed by public health experts as very low,” said Dr Bloomfield.

“It’s important to understand that we don’t rely on a single layer of protection to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  We have multiple layers of defence at our border and inside MIQ that work together to create barriers and safeguards that protect returnees, border workers and the wider community.”

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“That’s why so many people have been able to go through MIQ, with only a very small number of incidents such as these.”

“The reviewers themselves noted that, whilst the reviews focused on outlining necessary improvements as a result of the incidents, it is in fact the success of the wider MIQ system that has been integral to the nation’s success in keeping Covid-19 largely out of our communities,”

Where outbreaks occur, the Ministry and other departments investigate to make any required changes.

Infection prevention and control audits are regularly undertaken in the MIQ facilities, and any recommendations are actioned.

Image/Video: SUPPLIED/Ministry of Health [Government Media/Newswire – applicable]

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