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By Emma Russell and RNZ
If numbers keep increasing at the rate they are, Auckland’s Jet Park facility could potentially be out of beds by tomorrow night, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins has hinted.
But there are plans for a backup that could be ready within 48 hours, Hipkins told RNZ Checkpoint this evening.
An MIQ spokesman said there were 70 beds available as of 9.30 this morning. There were 62 new cases announced today.
“We are also exploring options to increase MIQ’s overall capacity to quarantine community cases in Auckland and elsewhere,” the spokesman said.
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There are now more than 480 locations of interest in the Covid-19 Delta outbreak, and about 20,000 close contacts.
Hipkins said two hotels near Auckland Airport were being prepared, with one of them to become an extra quarantine facility like the Jet Park.
“We are absolutely working to make sure we can accommodate all those who are currently booked and have vouchers already. We don’t want to be in a position where we have to cancel people after they’ve already secured a spot,” he told RNZ.
There was no risk of cancelling people at this point, he said, “but that is one of the reasons why we’re not releasing more vouchers.”
A number of contingencies were being planned for, he said.
“We’ve got one [location] we would prefer but it’s still got a few people in it who are leaving, and we’re just preparing another one in the event that the one that we’re going to use isn’t ready at the time that we need it.”
The release of MIQ spots has been halted “to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity to cater for domestic positive Covid-19 cases,” Hipkins said.
Decisions to re-release room vouchers would depend on how the country progressed in the next few days in terms of additional positive cases, he said.
Between one cohort – or group – of people in MIQ leaving and the next one arriving, the hotel was thoroughly cleaned. The Crowne Plaza is going through that process at the moment, he said.
He was confident the Crowne Plaza would be able to take its next scheduled cohort later this week.
“We still have room to accommodate an unexpected event but our ability to do that is narrowing down by the day.”
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