A woman who suffers from extreme nose bleeds may be forced to stay an extra week in managed isolation because health officials are refusing to let her have a Covid-19 throat swab.
Karolina Jordan has been told she must have a nasal test despite the potential for her to haemorrhage from it.
Her husband, Warwick Jordan, said she was happy to have as many throat swabs as needed and had even had one before she left Europe to be cautious.
She was becoming increasingly distressed at being labelled a test dodger, he said.
It was her eighth day staying at the Ibis Hotel isolation facility in Rotorua, and every morning since day three a tester and a person in military uniform had turned up asking her to take a nasal test, he said.
She had explained the test would injure her, showed them a medical certificate, and said she wanted to have a throat test, Jordan said.
“Then they say ‘no, we won’t give you that, and we’ll take it as a refusal to get a test’,” Jordan said.
They told her if she continued to refuse the compulsory test on day 12, she would have to stay 22 days instead of 14.
That was despite official documents given to guests on arrival that say a throat swab is an option if necessary.
“She is very upset … it’s eating away at her … and she is sitting there on her own,” he said.
RNZ has seen the certificate from Karolina Jordan’s Auckland GP which says she experiences nasal haemorrhaging as well as facial and sinus pain, and should have a throat swab.
The nose bleeds could be so heavy she required hospitalisation, Jordan said.
“I’m not saying my wife should be some sort of exception, to just let her in with no testing. That would be stupid. I’d be against that.
“But, there’s got to be some consideration for people’s medical situations – that they’re treated fairly… rather than bullied.”
He said the testers and the staff at the hotel were nice and polite, but she still felt pressured and stressed.
The decision was being made at a policy level, without any assessment by a doctor at the hotel, he said.
Rotorua’s public health authority Toi Te Ora was in charge of the decision.
Its medical officer of health, Phil Shoemack, said in a statement a throat swab was less accurate than a nasal one, and could return a false negative.
Toi Te Ora had to balance the welfare of returning travellers with protecting the public from Covid-19, he said.
If returnees did not have a nasal swab, the longer stay would help ensure they were no longer at risk of having an unrecognised infection.
However, government information given to all guests at the Ibis in Rotorua said though the more sensitive nasal swab was preferred, a throat swab was an option for those who could not tolerate one.
It only mentioned people needing to stay longer if they could not, or would not, have either a throat or nose test.
In a statement to RNZ, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said the ultimate decision was Te Toi Ora’s.