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Temporary halt on travellers from India after increase of returnees with Covid-19 - Ardern

Entry into New Zealand for travellers from India is being temporarily suspended in light of the high number of returnees coming back with Covid-19, after likely contracting the virus while travelling. 

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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

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today, saying it will begin at 4pm on April 11.  

If you or your family are affected by the suspension of travel from India and are willing to talk about your situation, please email news@tvnz.co.nz

"This temporary suspension will remain in place until 28th of April."

"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."

"This is a risk assessment generally."

"Cases of the virus have been on the rise again internationally," she said. "We are starting to see this global trend mirrored locally," Ardern said, referring to the increase of Covid-19 cases in MIQ. 

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"It is to the border we look to manage this global spike."

The temporary suspension comes as India reported a record daily surge in new coronavirus cases for the second time in four days yesterday.

The rise of 115,736 coronavirus cases reported yesterday tops the 103,844 infections reported Sunday. Fatalities rose by 630, the highest daily amount since November, driving the confirmed death toll in the country above 166,000.

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. 

"That's why I do want to assure you this is not a permanent arrangement, but rather a temporary measure until we are able to better understand and manage the situation we are facing and see if there are ways to reduce the risk that actually travellers themselves are facing."

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

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It comes 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. 

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Jacinda Ardern says it's a temporary move while a plan is figured out but the Indian community is furious. Source: 1 NEWS

Today, 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. 

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."