‘Last resort’: Sydney couple’s desperate plea
A New Zealand couple based in Sydney say their newborn baby will not meet his dying grandfather if they cannot find space in a managed isolation facility.
Thie plea for help comes as the NZ Government announced its Managed Isolation Allocation System was fully booked until December 20.
Under new rules, people travelling into New Zealand needed a voucher for a managed isolation facility before boarding a flight to New Zealand.
Sarra White, who has lived in Sydney for the past three years with her husband Ben White, welcomed their new baby, Hendrix, only five weeks ago.
But they recently received tragic news - Ben's 82-year-old father, Paul, was terminally ill and was in a care facility in Waikato.
"He has been taken into hospice care and we've been told we need to come to see him," he said.
"It's really bad, unfortunately."
Sarra asked those with her father-in-law how long he had to live. They said "it could be days, or, if we are really lucky, weeks".
"We would probably just make it if we flew home this Sunday as planned."
Like all travellers into New Zealand, they had to take the two-week managed isolation period into account.
They already had to "jump through" hurdles to get a passport for Hendrix, but were able to get one at short notice.
They organised time off work, vaccinations for their baby, but when they went to buy tickets, they found they had to obtain a voucher for their managed isolation stay,
But authorities in New Zealand told them there was no space and they would have to wait until late December, White said.
"I've had many phone calls, even in tears, trying to explain our situation," she said.
"I just feel there is no empathy at all."
They wanted to fly this weekend, but would lose flights if a solution was not found by Thursday morning, White said.
A doctor at the hospice had also written in support of the family's application to come to New Zealand.
"It's horrible … our new baby won't get to meet his grandad, my husband won't get to say goodbye, it's heartbreaking," White said.
"Once a loved one is gone, they are gone for good."
She called for authorities in New Zealand to show "a little bit more compassion" to their situation.
"We really have just tried to follow protocol … we are running against time now.
"With these systems, the empathy is gone."
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, head of New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine, said he acknowledged there were many people in "heartbreaking situations" as a result of the pandemic.
"There is a very restrictive emergency allocation criteria - this is a last resort option and the threshold is extremely high," he said.
"We are very sympathetic to the distressing and heartbreaking situations of people applying for an emergency allocation on compassionate grounds. But - at this period of peak demand - the criteria for granting an Emergency Allocation is limited to if there is an imminent threat to your life or serious risk to health, which requires urgent travel to New Zealand."
Mr Webb said applications were considered on a case-by-case basis but expected "very few approvals" would be granted.
Any people given emergency allocation would still need to complete their 14 days managed isolation, he said.
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and has been republished with permission
Originally published as 'Last resort': Sydney couple's desperate plea