The once-adored COVID-19 “success story” in New Zealand is fast becoming a cautionary tale. Wellington has taken its “battle” against the novel coronavirus to new extremes. Officials have quietly instituted a new draconian measure that forces confirmed and suspected COVID-19 positive citizens and their families into quarantine facilities, with little to no legal or humanitarian recourse available to them.
New Zealand, which recently made headlines for celebrating (preemptively) their “successful” elimination of the novel coronavirus, is dealing with a new outbreak of coronavirus cases, with roughly 100 COVID-19 positive cases found over the past week. But that minute number hasn’t stopped the nation from continuing to ramp up its attempted countermeasures.
A new mandatory quarantine policy went into effect last week, but it went largely ignored by the press. The country’s health director announced last Thursday that all cases of COVID would be “managed in a quarantine facility.”
“This will apply to any cases and also close family members who might be at risk as appropriate,” he added, without adding many more details to the open-ended drastic edict.
Initially, the quarantine policy only applied to new arrivals coming into the country. It remains unknown if anyone has attempted to disobey the new forced quarantine policy. Today, any Kiwi that tests positive is immediately isolated and sent to hotels-turned-quarantine centers. Individuals are quarantined in separate rooms and are not allowed to leave the grounds of the facility or even leave their rooms without permission.
On Thursday, the government announced that 500 New Zealand defence force personnel would be deployed for security at the 32 quarantine facilities in the country. They are going to be in charge of making sure that no one has the ability to enter or exit the facility without permission. The facilities have bolstered CCTV systems to keep track of the “guests” staying on the grounds.
Additionally, the press is reportedly not allowed to photograph or take video of the facilities, with the government citing privacy concerns as the justification for why it is not allowed.
Proponents of the mandatory facilities say that “guests” are treated to top notch accommodations, such as wireless internet and a room with a comfy bed at a 4 star hotel. They have not explained what happens when the cases continue to grow, and the higher end facilities no longer have the vacancies necessary to accommodate the forced quarantine policy.
I found a couple of testimonials from Kiwis on social media who claimed to have stayed at the facilities:
A late June video has surfaced of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacina Ardern discussing what happens in the mandatory quarantine facilities, which again, were initially only for inbound travelers, but are now being used for the entire population inside of New Zealand as well.
Here are some of the relevant comments from her Facebook Live Q&A:
On what happens if someone refuses testing:
“What do we do if someone refuses to be tested? Well they can’t now. If someone refuses in our facilities to be tested, they have to keep staying, so they won’t be able to leave after 14 days. They have to stay on for another 14 days. So it’s a pretty good incentive. You either get your test done and make sure you’re cleared, or we will keep you in a facility longer, so I think most people will look at that and say, ‘I’ll take the test.’”
On the dramatic measures uniquely undertaken by New Zealand:
“There are countries that are requiring self-isolation. We have taken it a step further.”
On monitoring individuals in the facilities:
“If anyone moves into a common area or is getting some fresh air, which is all monitored, no one can do it on their own. They can only leave… or, um, be in a space to get a little bit of fresh air if they are supervised, because of course it’s a quarantine facility.”
In addition to adding the general population to the quarantine facilities, the government has taken several other drastic steps in dealing with a virus with a 99.8% recovery rate. Elections have been postponed, and their biggest city in Auckland has been pushed into an indefinite lockdown.
As part of their COVID “elimination” policy, New Zealand officials appear to be planning to continue the nation’s self-siege until a vaccine arrives. However, there are doubts that the vaccine can maintain an efficacy rate of over 50 percent, so it remains unclear how Kiwi authorities believe they can shield their population from the virus forever.
In just a week’s time, Kiwi authorities went from preemptively celebrating victory over a virus to forcibly incarcerating their own citizens.
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