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Dr Bloomfield gives Govt advice as high number of returnees likely contracting Covid on journey

The Government is expected to make an announcement after taking advice around the high number of travellers coming into New Zealand with Covid-19, after likely contracting the virus while travelling. 

Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield - File. Source: 1 NEWS

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today stressed the increase in Covid-19 cases around the world. 

"Currently India has the most steeply rising rate in reported cases," he said. "It is the third highest total number of cases since the start of the pandemic with 12 million, after the US at 30 million and Brazil with 13 million." 

India is reporting a seven day average of around 93,000 cases per day, Dr Bloomfield said, adding there was also also a significant numbers of deaths being reported per day around the world. 

It comes after a high number of Covid-19 cases in managed isolation have been reported in New Zealand recently, with 17 today testing positive on the day zero or one test. 

"The high number of cases in managed isolation facilities being reported today and a number of days recently have rightly prompted a question about the accuracy and value of pre-departure testing," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"Our current assessment is that there is no reason to not take at face value the pre-departure testing document and test results."

Dr Bloomfield said as many of the infections were being detected largely at day zero or one on arrival here - "it supports the view individuals are becoming infected during their journey within India".

He said both Mumbai and Delhi and the states they are in "have imposed curfews and of the nearly 100,000 cases being reported a day in India, around half of those are in the state Mumbai is in".

"There is a very active outbreak there."

"These rising rates of infection are therefore the most likely explanation for the substantial increase here of travellers testing positive on arrival."

The Ministry of Health have provided advice to Government about how to manage the increased risk, including the increased risk of transmission on long haul flights and the risk to border workers and others staying there. 

Dr Bloomfield said his advice included "some thoughts about what additional measures could be put in place both in India and here to reduce the risk".

"It could be requirements around the nature of the test that is done... It could be expectations around what people will do in terms of their behaviour and measures at the other end. 

"We would be looking at what other measures could be put in place to prevent people travelling should they be or become symptomatic during the journey."