India, Pakistan, Brazil and PNG deemed 'very high risk', travel to NZ restricted to citizens and immediate families

The Government has established a new category of very high risk countries, based on rates of Covid-19 and its variants in them.

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India, Pakistan, Brazil and Papua New Guinea are all on the list. Source: 1 NEWS

India, Brazil, PNG and Pakistan will be classified as very high risk, and only New Zealand citizens, their partners and children and parents of children who are New Zealand citizens will be allowed into the country from those nations. 

The US and UK aren't included as travellers from there are less likely to arrive at NZ's border with Covid-19.

“India, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan are the countries that currently meet that threshold," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

“From India alone, this is expected to reduce the number of potential positive cases coming to New Zealand by an estimated 75 per cent.”

He said it would significantly reduce people with Covid-19 flying into New Zealand.

“Any case at the border creates additional pressures on MIQ facilities.”

“A travel restriction can help us manage that risk.”

That would come into force on April 28 at 11.59pm.

“Countries have initially been designated very high risk where there have been more than 50 cases of Covid-19 per 1000 arrivals to New Zealand from those countries in 2021, and where there are more than 15 travellers on average per month,” Hipkins said.

Segregating returnees in MIQ

Returnees will be kept in the same facilities as other that have arrived at the same time, intending to keep them apart from people who are coming to the end of their stay.

This comes after incidents of the spread of Covid between returnees this year.

“Most MIQs are introducing an enhanced cohorting (or group intake) system to further reduce risk of in-facility transmission,” Hipkins said.

“Under the new plan, returnees arriving in New Zealand over a 96-hour window will be delivered to MIQ facilities until they are full or the 96-hour period is over.”

“The facilities will then ‘lock down’ for a 14-day cycle with no additional returnees allowed until after the last of the cohort have completed their stay and the facilities have been cleaned.”

Yesterday, India reported a global record of 314,000 new cases of Covid-19 according to the Associated Press, raising the total number in India to more than 15.9 million since the pandemic started. 

A temporary ban on any travellers from India, including New Zealand citizens and residents, was announced on April 8, coming into force three days later. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time it would be in place until April 28. 

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The temporary suspension will be in place from April 11 to April 28 as the number of cases being imported has spiked in recent weeks. Source: 1 NEWS

It came after a high number of returnees from India were testing positive with Covid-19 at the day zero/one test, after likely contracting the virus while travelling. 

"People are getting sick in the act of travelling to New Zealand. Not on the plane, but literally the act of coming to the airport to leave. I don’t want people experiencing that," Ardern said on April 8. 

"This is a risk assessment generally."

She said the Government was looking at how it manages high risk points of departure.

It came after the Government sought advice from Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield about how to manage the risk due to the increase in Covid-19 cases coming through the border.

That included the increased risk of transmission on long haul flights and the risk to border workers and others staying there.