Man visiting dying father stuck in MIQ longer due to being on same floor as Omicron case

A man who flew to New Zealand to visit his dying father says he’s at breaking point after being put on the same MIQ floor as those coming from a higher-risk country and subsequently having his stay extended due to an Omicron case from another flight.

Robert Turner flew directly into the country from Japan on December 12 andhe said on arrival in Rotorua, they were put on the same floor as what he describes as an “obviously high-risk” flight from Dubai.

Turner said he complained at the time but was told not to worry as they would exercise at different times, and his request to isolate elsewhere was rejected.

Last night the father said they were informed because someone from the Dubai flight on their floor had tested positive for the Omicron variant they would have to stay until next Wednesday.

“It’s heartbreaking, we’ve travelled all this way, I’ve taken two months off work, my son’s taken two months of school. We haven’t seen him [his father] for two and a half years. My father finally came out of hospital yesterday.”

Three cases of the new variant arrived in Auckland from Dubai on December 11 and were transported to the Rotorua MIQ facility on a bus chartered for international arrivals.

One of the cases travelled to Dubai from London, another one from Spain and a third one from Nigeria. They all boarded the same flight in Dubai to Auckland.

A statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday said the cases have been moved to the Jet Park quarantine facility in Auckland.

Worried he’ll have to stay longer – and therefore spend less time with his father, who has brain cancer – Turner said he offered to put up a tent outside but said that request was also refused.

“I am having a nervous breakdown yet everyone who makes decisions is out for the weekend.”

Turner said he hasn’t slept in days as he’s concerned that if another person is infected on the floor, their stay will be extended even longer.

“We’re only here for three weeks, every day with him counts.”

While trying to find a resolution he feels “stuck in a maze” with no exit, as he said his complaints keep getting passed on to other agencies.

Turner said when he told his father about the delay he broke down in tears.

“If we were a risk to the community, we wouldn’t ask to come out early because my father is sick and I don’t want to get sick to him. But it just seems like we’ve been trapped in some bureaucratic system.”

Adding to the frustration, he said, is the fact people on the same flight as the person who contracted Omicron can leave a day before him.

“People like my son and I, and my father and mother, we’re being discarded.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has been approached for comment.

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