New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been grilled in a series of interviews following a number of blunders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The land of the long white cloud currently has 22 active cases of coronavirus.
However, earlier this month health department director-general Ashley Bloomfield declared New Zealand virus free.
Last week it was revealed most people allowed to leave COVID-19 quarantine in June did so without being tested first.
Of the 55 Kiwis granted compassionate exemptions to leave isolation between June 9 and 16, all but four did so without a test.
The Ministry of Health admitted the failing in an after-hours press release.
The compassionate exemption system was introduced to allow New Zealanders to see terminally-ill loved ones or attend funerals after racing home from overseas.
The revelation that two women were granted releases without being tested - only to test positive - prompted Ms Ardern to pause and review the exemptions regime.
Ms Ardern was grilled about the issue on Newstalk ZB radio on Monday morning.
After introducing the PM, host Mike Hosking said quarantine facilities haven’t “been up to scratch”.
“You forgot that (the system) was also doing what it needed to do there, Mike,” Ms Ardern said.
“Apart from the time that it wasn’t doing what it was needing to do,” Mr Hosking told the PM, prompting her to reply that it “has been addressed, Mike”.
He then asked her if she accepted her “failings”.
“Mike, I’m going to take one quick step back here for a little bit of global context,” Ms Ardern said.
“There is no rule book on any of what we are doing. In fact New Zealand, by the mere fact that we have quarantine, puts us amongst only a handful of countries in the world. The fact that we mandate testing in those facilities makes us the most stringent, in the world, when it comes to our border.”
Ms Ardern added NZ has had a “had a 73 per cent increase” in arrivals since April and the pandemic is growing across the world.
‘What did you see in Ashley’s face?’
The PM was also grilled over Health Minister David Clark’s response to the mishaps - in which he shifted the blame to New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
In an awkward press conference, Dr Clark told reporters Dr Bloomfield had “accepted responsibility” as the director-general stood behind him.
Previously, Dr Clark had broken NZ’s quarantine rules in April when he drove his family to a beach 20km away.
Mr Hoskings asked Ms Ardern if she’d seen Dr Bloomfield after the minister “threw him under the bus”.
Ms Ardern said she watched the press conference but claimed there were details which weren’t included in news reports, including Dr Clark praising Dr Bloomfield.
“What did you see in Ashley’s face?” Mr Hosking said.
The PM said it’s the same face she’s seen “across people who are working in health generally”.
“You know, a group of people who have worked exceptionally hard for a number of months and that we do have to give some respite too. They have been working incredibly hard,” Ms Ardern said.
“We have been criticised for not directly blaming any individual person, because this has been a failure of our system and we have taken collective responsibility for that.”
When asked if Dr Bloomfield deserved such treatment from Dr Clark, given the latter broke quarantine rules himself, the PM said ordinarily she would have fired the minister but couldn’t do so during a pandemic.
Ms Ardern faced similar questioning about the incident on the AM Show on Monday.
Host Duncan Garner asked if Dr Clark takes responsibility for his “bungles”, to which the PM replied “it’s not an issue which lays at the feet of an individual.”
The host said “that’s the right answer”, but questioned why the minister didn’t say that.
The PM said, as she had also told Mr Hosking, Dr Clark praised Dr Bloomfield for his work as well.
“In my view, it was certainly not the intention to leave that impression that some have taken from that interview,” she said.
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