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'I cannot guarantee travellers are safe' - Ardern defends temporary halt on returnees from India

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denies the Government is singling out India in temporarily suspending New Zealand citizens and residents travelling back to New Zealand

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When asked today if she had misled Kiwis by telling them they were always welcomed home, Ardern said "absolutely not". Source: 1 NEWS

When asked today if she had misled Kiwis by telling them they would always be welcomed home, Ardern said, "absolutely not".

"Our goal and our approach through all those this is to bring home Kiwis from abroad. We have a higher number of people coming home per capita than the likes of Australia."

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"I want people to be safe in their journey. At the moment, I cannot guarantee travellers are safe from being infected with Covid and I want to improve that."

Yesterday, the Government announced it would be temporarily stopping New Zealanders coming back from India.

The move would kick in at 4pm on Sunday and run until April 28. 

"This is a temporary suspension," she said today.

Ardern said they had never previously suspended travel for New Zealand citizens or residents attempting to return - a move the Government continually distanced itself from previously throughout the pandemic. 

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Sandeep Singh says today's announcement was a shock to the community. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, it was reported 16 people in MIQ tested positive for Covid-19 from India during the day zero or one test, with one further historical infection. 

Coronavirus infections and deaths are surging in India. 

"We had put in place day zero testing as a way to bring down some of the numbers we were seeing from high risk countries," Ardern said.

"We have since seen sustained numbers coming through, particularly from India and it gave us cause for concern why our pre-departure testing wasn't having that same impact. This gives us the opportunity to enhance our programme and reduce risk."

Indian Weekender editor Sandeep Singh yesterday told 1 NEWS the decision "came as a huge shock" to the Indian New Zealand community, who he described as "equally incensed, outraged and shocked with the decision".