New Covid-19 testing measures coming for border workers

The Government is boosting its Covid-19 testing for border workers, including making sure more workers are tested and upping the testing frequency for others.

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The new rules extend to staff who aren’t covered by the current testing regime. Source: Breakfast

At the moment, some airport and port workers aren't required to get regular tests for Covid-19 despite interacting with international arrivals and transiting passengers.

That includes people who spend more than 15 minutes in an enclosed space on-board a ship or aircraft that's arrived from outside New Zealand.

From next week, those people will be required to get a Covid-19 every seven days. 

All airside workers and all landside workers who interact with international arrivals or transiting passengers will need to get tested every 14 days under the new regime.

Meanwhile, pilots who work on affected ships will now need to get tested every seven days, an increase from every 14, as they're considered to be at higher risk of exposure.

"These strengthened rules – to apply to all international airports and ports – build on the mandatory testing orders we’ve been implementing since August and will make our border safety even stronger," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. 

"They are the latest steps in the Government’s extensive and ongoing programme to develop and refine our Covid-19 response."

More testing facilities have been added to the list of where each worker should go for their test.

As well as the testing changes, Hipkins says the revision "clarifies the expectations" of employers and employees required to get tested.

Those employers will need to allow their employees to get tested and are expected to keep records.

Hipkins praised border workers as "among the most scrutinised and tested people in the country", calling them "some of the real heroes of our Covid-19 response".

"They are doing an incredible job, day in and day out, keeping Covid-19 out of our community," he says.

"In return, we must do everything we can to keep them safe."

The latest community outbreak, last week, has been genomically linked to a NZDF worker at the Jet Park quarantine facility in Auckland.

However a transmission link - showing how the case actually contracted the virus from that person - has yet to be found.