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Chris Hipkins details challenges of closing border to high risk countries as new Covid-19 variants spread

Chris Hipkins today detailed the challenges of closing New Zealand's border to high risk countries as new highly transmissible Covid-19 variants continue to spread around the globe.

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The move would have negative consequences for New Zealand according to the Covid-19 Response Minister. Source: 1 NEWS

The move would have negative consequences for New Zealand the Covid-19 Response Minister told media today.

"One of the difficulties of closing the borders completely to high risk countries is that it's very difficult to filter only them out," he said.

"You will have to close the border completely to eliminate all risk of Covid-19 coming into New Zealand, so the consequences of that for us could be quite catastrophic.

"Most of our medical supplies come from abroad and we rely on them coming in from air services, our exporters rely on ships coming in from our ports in order to export their goods and import goods as well, and if we simply shut everything down all of those things will stop happening."

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Hipkins went on to say that means closing the border completely "isn't a realistic option".

His comments come after experts have been calling on the Government to consider banning flights from the United Kingdom and other countries where Covid-19 is out of control.

"As a result (of the new variants) we are seeing more infected people at our border - this is a very serious situation," epidemiologist Nick Wilson told RNZ's Summer Times New Zealand.

"We have had at least seven border failures in the last six months associated with MIQ facilities, including the large Auckland August outbreak.

"It's probably time the government bans flights from the US and the UK until the situations in those countries improve, the risk is just too high."

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The Government announced stricter border measures today, including day zero testing for most passengers arriving in New Zealand.