Australian who refused Covid-19 test leaves managed isolation, flies to Auckland
Australian Lucinda Baulch has been released after 28 days in a Wellington managed isolation facility despite refusing to take a Covid-19 test.
Speaking to Stuff as she left the facility on Tuesday evening, Baulch said she was heading to Wellington Airport and would fly to Auckland to stay “for a night or two" until she decided her next step.
She was transported to the airport in a van arranged by the facility. She was the only passenger and did not wear a mask.
She had still not taken a Covid-19 test but said she had answered a “series of questions” about her health before leaving the facility.
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Baulch was offered a test on each of the last 16 days of her stay at the Grand Mercure Hotel isolation facility and refused all of them.
People refusing their day-12 test are offered a test each day of their extended stay, up to a maximum of 28 days. If they agree to a test and return a negative result, they would be allowed to leave, a Government managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson said.
She said she had instigated judicial review proceedings in protest of her unlawful detention at the quarantine facility.
Minister of Covid response Chris Hipkins dismissed her claims as absurd.
“It’s unfortunate when people buy into conspiracy theories and base their decisions on misinformation,” Hipkins said.
When she arrived, Baulch was provided with a welcome pack which included information about the tests she was required to take, when and how the tests would be taken, and what would happen if the results were positive or negative.
“Managed isolation nurses had conversations with Lucinda Baulch regarding testing and other matters. Additional clarification was also provided in response to Ms Baulch’s phone calls and emails, in line with information already provided.”
On Tuesday Baulch told Stuff that she would have been prepared to undergo the test but was not satisfied with the degree of evidence provided in order to have given informed consent.
The legal basis for returnees entering isolation or quarantine when entering New Zealand is included in the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Isolation and Quarantine) Order 2020.
The Order sets out that returnees must remain in managed isolation for a minimum of 14 days and must have a Medical Officer of Health or a Health Protection Officer determine that they are medically “considered a low risk of having or transmitting Covid-19”.
In almost all cases, a negative Covid-19 test is required for someone to be deemed low risk, though there are exceptions if a person has “physical or other reasons that make it inappropriate” to take a test.
Baulch arrived last month as a foster carer accompanying three children who were moving into the care of New Zealand families.
Opposition leader Judith Collins called for the woman to be deported for refusing a Covid-19 test.
“Frankly, I’m sure the Australian Government, they need to take back their own person if she is one of theirs,” Collins said on Tuesday. She confirmed this was “pretty much” a call for the woman to be deported.
Baulch confirmed that she had attended an anti lockdown protest in Melbourne on November 3, 2020, when more than 400 people were arrested.