Since the guard tested positive for the virus last week, health authorities had to call up the police to assist with contract tracing.
The guard is Case B in the most recent cluster, and he was last screened six months ago, ignoring the condition that he be tested every two weeks.
Carolyn Tremain, chief executive of the MBIE, made the shocking announcement this morning during a health select committee meeting in Parliament.
According to First Protection, it has “current proof of up-to-date Covid-19 testing from all guards working at MIQ facilities and [is] keeping independent records to government-provided registers and tools”
Labour MPs deliberately stonewalled opposition concerns about the security guard and the wider testing and documentation procedure at the hearing.
Tremain told MPs that the 24-year-old security guard worked as a relief night shift worker at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility on a daily basis.
Under questioning from National MP Chris Bishop, she confirmed the guard should have been tested every two weeks but there were “inconsistencies” in the testing records and her officials were still checking the data.
“What we are in the process of doing now is verifying with the employer what their records are.”
Ardern says this was a “very particular circumstance” because testing information comes from employees and in this case “the individual was lying to their employer”.
“For this person, of course, they were employed by First Security. Their employer is responsible for making sure that they are fulfilling the regulations that they are getting tested.
“Ultimately though, that employer needed to have checks and balances in place to make sure they were still doing what was required,” she said.
Tremain told reporters employers and employees are responsible under the health border order to have the testing done and “as a consequence, we just need to triangulate that information to see whether there’s anything different to what we understand”.
In a statement, First Security says it has met “all government-mandated Covid-19 health and safety obligations and requirements” and that “all guards are required to sign declarations that they are up-to-date with the Covid-19 testing”.
Furthermore, it says before each shift guards have to do a health screening check, carried out by the Health Ministry.
“If a guard’s status shows they are non-compliant in the Border Worker Testing (BWT) system, First Security takes all necessary steps to ensure testing is undertaken.”
It claims to have “current proof up to date” of Covid-19 tests from “from all guards working at MIQ facilities”
Since “this individual is still recovering from the virus at the Jet Park quarantine facility we will not be commenting further on his case until he has been released and we are able to complete an investigation into his compliance with Covid-19 testing protocols” according to First Security.
Tremain was unable to clarify whether the documents were contradictory and could not tell how many MIQ employees had failed constitutionally mandated examinations.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed at a 1pm media conference that it would be required to send testing details to the National Register beginning on April 27, making it easier to collect and verify boundary testing information is up to date and correct.
National leader Judith Collins was “floored” by the story.
“The public has been promised for months that all of the frontline border facing staff were being tested regularly,” Collins said.
“And now to find out [the guard] hasn’t been tested for months and he’s the staff member who’s got Covid? It’s just unfathomable.”
‘Farcical’ health committee hearing
Opposition MPs became publicly annoyed at the hearing, which was presided by Labour MP Liz Craig, and during which Labour MPs attempted to run interference on issues from National and ACT.
National was also critical of the 20-minute “lecture” at the outset by the most senior officials in charge of the border regime and health response, which took up time that should have been used for opposition queries.
Bishop told reporters that he had “seven or eight” pages of questions prepared and that being “curtailed” by government MPs asking patsy questions was “pretty depressing”
“The government should reflect on the enormous power that they have as the largest party in the Parliament and our first single-party majority government under MMP and be cognisant of the parliamentary responsibilities of the opposition, to hold the officials to account,” he said.
Collins wants the Epidemic Response Committee to be recalled, an opposition-run committee set up during last year’s lockdown.
The government has a “transparency” problem, she told reporters, after the “farcical nonsense” at the committee.
“This is supposed to be something where we can actually get answers. If Chris [Bishop] hadn’t done his job, when were we ever going to get told?”