Couple’s allegations refuted by Healthline

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By GUY WILLIAMS

An operator of the government’s Covid-19 Healthline is sticking to its guns over a claim by a Queenstown couple it gave them incorrect advice about whether to get tested.

But so are the couple.

Following Mountain Scene’s page 1 story last week, National Telehealth Service got in touch to say it’s identified a third phone conversation, during which Keiko Hirokawa and husband Richard Berry claim the errant advice was given.

Scene reported when Hirokawa picked up a temperature, cough and sore throat on May 11, she reported the symptoms in three calls the following day.

She and her husband said in the final call, the call taker initially told Hirokawa she didn’t need a test and her husband could go to work that day.

Berry said after overhearing this, he grabbed the phone and questioned the advice, at which the woman apologised and suggested Hirokawa get a test.

But National Telehealth Service chief executive Andrew Slater says they’ve listened to all three calls, and are confident the appropriate advice was given.

“It isn’t correct that she was told by Healthline ‘she did not need to take a test and would recover by herself’ or that ‘her husband could go to work that day if he did not have any symptoms’.”

Berry says that’s “totally wrong”, and he’s going to request a copy of the recording of the final call.

“I know what was said.”

guy.williams@scene.co.nz