Travel to New Zealand from India – including for New Zealand citizens and residents – is temporarily suspended due to the high number of Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed this afternoon that a border official had tested positive for Covid-19.
Bloomfield also announced 23 new positive cases of Covid in managed isolation, 17 of which had arrived from India.
Ardern says she is now focusing on new cases at the border.
“Cases of the virus have increased internationally … with outbreaks particularly in Brazil and India … we are starting to see this global trend reflected here,” she said.
“We are temporarily suspending entry into New Zealand for travelers from India.”
The travel ban will run from April 11 to 28, she said, and is expected to be temporary.
This is the first time that New Zealand has prevented citizens or residents from returning.
“I fully understand the difficulty this temporary suspension will entail,” said Ardern. “I understand that, but I also feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to find ways to reduce the risks to travelers.”
This is largely because of the growing number of cases arriving from India, many of whom are said to have contracted the virus on their way to their international flight to India.
India is grappling with a sustained epidemic and reports a seven-day average of 93,000 new cases per day. The United States is in second place with 64,000 and Brazil with 63,000. Turkey has 43,000 and France 36,000.
Cases in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities fell from two or three per day to four to five per day for the seven-day moving average.
“We want to see fewer cases happen in general,” says Ardern. “The advice is that people are susceptible to contracting the virus … when they go to an airport and before boarding a plane.”
She said “our intention was not for this to be a long-term tool”, but she couldn’t rule out that the travel suspension could be extended.
The government is not considering suspensions for other countries at this time, says Ardern, in part because other countries with a large increase in Covid-19 do not have as many people traveling to New Zealand as the ‘India.
Ardern says the government has been concerned about high-risk countries for some time.
“We looked into whether we had any issues with the accuracy of the tests before the start – it hasn’t shown that this is where the problem lies, so this suspension gives us some time to look into the matter. more generally.”
There are also a significant number of deaths around the world, with Brazil yesterday reporting more than 4,000 deaths per day.
The suspension is temporary because “we have an obligation to allow citizens to re-enter New Zealand,” says Ardern.
This would reduce the risk for New Zealand and travelers, she said.
Regarding the security guard’s case announced today, Ardern said she understood that efforts had been made to vaccinate the person in question.
“I expect all frontline border workers to be vaccinated for their own health and safety … as of Monday we begin the process of these [workers] who do not have [been vaccinated] move on to other roles. “
It was announced this week that a non-quarantine travel bubble with Australia would operate from April 19.