Govt website contradicts PM's KFC worker claim

Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty
Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty
A government-run group that informs New Zealanders about the latest Covid-19 information is contradicting the Prime Minister's stance surrounding a KFC worker who she says should have been isolating.

The Unite Against Covid-19 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages have been hugely popular with the public - often replying to questions about all things Covid in great detail and in real-time.

But one member of the public's comment calling out "people like the selfish Kmart worker" resulted in the Unite Against Covid-19 page seemingly correcting her.

"Kia J (Kmart worker) and Case L (KFC worker) were not required to isolate at the time," the page says.

"The advice for all staff and students of Papatoetoe High School to isolate was updated on 23 February - after the two had attended their shifts at their workplaces."

The page says that close contacts and their families were advised to isolate and to get a Covid test.

The message posted on the Unite Against Covid-19 Facebook page. Image: Facebook
The message posted on the Unite Against Covid-19 Facebook page. Image: Facebook
Casual plus contacts were also told to get a test and self-isolate. However, their household members were not required to.

"The family complied with the advice they were given at the time," the page writes.

The comment was posted four days ago - around the same time the PM voiced her frustrations over the family member of a Papatoetoe High student, who tested positive for Covid-19, who went to work at KFC Botany Downs.

The worker later tested positive for the virus.

Asked at the time whether the person should have been at home isolating, Ardern said: "Yes, they should have.

"They were always told they weren't meant to be operating in a level 2 environment.

"They were still required to stay at home and be tested."

'Someone owes someone an apology'

The KFC worker - dubbed Case L - is from the same household as the teenager, known as Case J, who went to work at Kmart Botany while infectious.

In the past few days, the KFC staffer says she was never told she needed to self-isolate at home and that Ardern needed to apologise to her.

"It's not fair on our end that we're getting all this backlash for something that we haven't actually done," she told Discovery.

Ardern yesterday said she would not be apologising and revealed that 15 texts and phone calls were made to that particular family.

"In my mind, everyone at Papatoetoe High School getting a test felt really clear to me," Ardern said.

National Party leader Judith Collins is also backing the KFC worker - saying "someone owes someone an apology".

She said if the Facebook post is right, then Ardern needs to front up and apologise to the affected employee.

"It now appears the Health Ministry - via a Facebook post - has confirmed the KFC worker who was vilified for going to work instead of staying home was told not to self-isolate by health officials."

She said the communications coming from the Government had left a lot to be desired, of late.

"The invention of new terms on the fly like 'casual plus' and 'close plus' contacts is confusing too many people," Collins said.

"The Government needs to get its public messaging right. Communication breakdowns like this can be the difference between Kiwis living Covid-free and a lockdown that costs the New Zealand economy $500 million a week."

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