New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to apologise after calling out the sister of a student infected with coronavirus for going to work at a KFC rather than self-isolating.
The woman worked at the fast food chain’s restaurant in Botany Downs in Auckland’s eastern suburbs on February 22 and 23 three days before testing positive for Covid-19.
Her sister tested positive on February 23 after being considered a casual contact of a confirmed case at Papatoetoe High School – the centre of a cluster of cases in South Auckland.
The family has since been ridiculed online after Ms Ardern criticised the sister, who claimed she never received instructions to get tested.
Auckland on Sunday entered a week-long Level Three lockdown after the prime minister blamed rule-breakers for causing the city’s latest outbreak.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to back down after calling out the sister of a student infected with Covid-19 for not getting tested when told to do so
‘It’s not fair on our end that we’re getting all this backlash for something that we haven’t actually done,’ the sister – known only as Case L – told Newshub.
‘If they tried to contact us multiple times and send us letters and stuff, where is this evidence.’
Case L said Ms Ardern should apologise as her comments were ‘upsetting’.
Ms Ardern said the family was told via letters on February 17 and 19 they needed to get tested.
On Tuesday, she defended how the government communicated with them – saying the student’s family were contacted 15 times through texts and phone calls telling them to get tested.
‘I cannot answer whether or not those were received, but certainly you can see attempts were made,’ she said.
‘I’ll go back to look at what we could have done in addition to that message.
The under-fire KFC worker was the sister of a student at Papatoetoe High School (pictured), where the south Auckland cluster originated. The family have claimed they never received the order to get tested
‘In my mind everyone at Papatoetoe High School getting a test felt really clear to me.’
ACT MP David Seymour has called on Ms Ardern to release the complete correspondence between the government and the family.
Authorities are meanwhile searching for Aucklanders who went to City Fitness Papatoetoe on February 26 between 3.25pm and 4.30pm – at the same time an infected 21-year-old visited the gym.
Pictured: A Covid-19 testing station at Papatoetoe High School on February 15. Ms Ardern said the student’s family were contacted 15 times by health officials about the need to get tested
Motorists wait to enter a temporary testing center for COVID-19 at Papatoetoe High School in Auckland on February 15
Pictured: A woman stuck in hefty traffic took a selfie and posted it to Twitter on Sunday afternoon
Checkpoints have been set up along major highways leading into the city which were packed with motorists who spent hours in their cars on Sunday trying to enter Auckland.
Police told residents to be patient and prepare for ‘significant delays’, but Kiwis described the situation as a ‘mess’ – with some claiming they saw drivers squatting on the side of the road due to a lack of facilities.
One man who tried to make the two-hour trip from Hamilton to Auckland spent double that time just getting to the halfway point near Meremere.
Pictured: Traffic jams on the highway heading in to Auckland in New Zealand, as residents wait at Covid checkpoints
Another spent three hours stuck in the same spot in Hampton Downs – just 44 minutes away from the city centre.
‘It’s a f**king mess,’ he told the NZ Herald.
While pet owners and livestock truck drivers took to exercising their animals on the side of the road, residents with sick passengers were furious about the hefty delays.
Pictured: Lines of traffic on a motorway heading in to Auckland in New Zealand after the city was plunged in to Stage Three lockdowns
Some people stuck in traffic said they could hear babies crying from cars nearby. ‘I feel sorrt for the poor babies and their families stuck in this heavy traffic’ one Twitter user said
One woman travelling with her terminally ill husband attempted to drive from Hampton Downs to Pokeno, about 45 minutes out of Auckland.
It took the couple four hours to drive little more than 5km down the road when the trip which should have taken 12 minutes.
Police had warned motorists they would be stopped and questioned about why they were travelling once they reached a checkpoint.
Pictured: A Google Maps image showing heavy traffic on highways leading in to Auckland on Sunday
Some residents were confused about why people from outside Auckland, where there are no Covid cases, are being screened so heavily. ‘Explain the logic behind not being able to come in to Auckland,’ one woman tweeted
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has announced Auckland will go into lockdown for one week, after just one new local case of Covid-19
The rest of New Zealand faced Level two restrictions from Sunday at 6am. Pictured: Testing station in Auckland on February 15
Level Three restrictions mean people are confined to their household bubble or an exclusive extended bubble – which may include close relatives or isolated people.
People must work from home if possible and businesses must not offer services requiring close personal contact, unless it is an essential service or emergency.
Public venues are closed but low-risk recreation activities are allowed within bubbles, such as bike riding, swimming or going on a picnic with other household members.
For the rest of New Zealand under Level Two restrictions, people can socialise in groups of up to 100, shop and travel domestically.
The cluster is centred around Papatoetoe High School, and the new case, a 21-year-old male, is reportedly the older brother of a student at that school. Pictured: A Covid-19 station set up outside the high school on February 15
Schools will remain open and groups over 100 are allowed in cinemas, casinos and stadiums as long as groups of 100 and less do not mix with each other.
Ms Ardern said she was disappointed in those who have not followed the rules and put the community at risk.
‘We do have the ability to take enforcement action if we need to,’ she said adding that people needed to feel comfortable coming forward.
‘We still need an environment where people will speak up and come forward and be tested.’
The latest restrictions come after the city of 2million people entered a three-day lockdown on February 15 when three people from one family – a Papatoetoe High School student and her parents – tested positive for Covid-19.