Voluntary Covid-19 isolation: 39 people join family in facilities
Almost 40 people have recently been granted exemptions to enter managed isolation facilities and join their loved ones who've arrived from overseas.
Nam Soo Ki is among them. He joined his wife and 9-month-old baby at Wellington's new managed isolation and quarantine facility at the Grand Mercure hotel on Friday.
Since February, the Ministry of Health has received 147 requests for someone to join another person in managed isolation.
During the period between June 18 and June 26 the Ministry has given approval for 39 people to enter facilities and provide support for family members.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
"Instances where these exemptions are granted include parents or caregivers wanting to join a minor in a facility, an individual wishing to join a partner and their child in the facility for support or an individual wishing to join someone in the facility who may require extra assistance to get through this period", the Ministry said in a statement.
Applicants must provide a valid reason and evidence to join someone in a facility, like someone supporting a newborn.
Separate approval is then sought from the other party.
"It's important to ensure everyone involved is reminded that joining is for the full 14-day managed isolation period," the Ministry said.Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the exemption appeared to be a manageable risk. Photo / Supplied.
It was with teary eyes on Friday afternoon that Nam Soo Ki, who is from Korea but has lived in New Zealand for 20 years, waved to his wife from the street as she exited a bus outside the Grand Mercure in Wellington.
His wife and 9-month-old baby left to visit Korea on March 4 and returned to the country on Thursday, first arriving in Auckland.
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Mother and child travelled abroad so the newborn could meet its 90-year-old grandmother.
Soo Ki anxiously waited for hours outside the hotel after he was told by those on the ground he couldn't enter the facility.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
The Health Ministry later confirmed to the Herald that unfortunately there was a delay in processing his exemption, which was later granted.
By 6.30pm on Friday Soo Ki was happily united with his family inside a hotel room.
Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the exemption appeared to be a manageable risk.
People who entered managed isolation facilities under this exemption were primarily putting themselves at risk.
"Overall if the level of protection is sustained, and there are some compassionate exemptions for doing things slightly differently, I think they're acceptable provided they don't compromise the level of protection of the whole system," Baker said.
He said the system should be made as humane as possible within these limits.
"There's a core group of people who the system's designed for and they just follow it without any deviation, but once you've got thousands of people in these facilities there will be some individualisation to make the system work effectively."
There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today - both who recently returned from overseas.
Both cases have been in managed facilities since they arrived in the country.
There are now 22 active cases in New Zealand.