Additional COVID-19 Tests For Returnees From Higher Risk Countries

Additional COVID-19 Tests For Returnees From Higher Risk Countries

  • New virus variants and ongoing high rates of
    diseases in some countries prompt additional border
    protections
  • Extra (day zero or day one) test to be
    in place this week
  • New ways of reducing risk before
    people embark on travel being investigated, including
    pre-departure testing for people leaving the United Kingdom
    for New Zealand, with a view to implementing added measures
    from mid-January; other higher risk countries to be
    considered on a case-by-case basis

An additional
test for COVID-19 will be required for returnees from higher
risk countries such as the United Kingdom on their arrival
in New Zealand from midnight on 31 December, Minister for
COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins announced
today.

“The extra PCR test will be applied on ‘day
zero’, as returnees who’ve been in the United Kingdom or
the United States during the preceding 14 days go through
New Zealand airport controls, or on ‘day one’, after
they arrive at a managed isolation and quarantine
facility,” Chris Hipkins said.

“This new testing
will be in addition to the current day three and day 12
tests. The returnees will also be required to be in
isolation or quarantine in their allocated room at a
facility until their initial test has returned a
result.

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“This means if the result is positive they
will be transferred to a quarantine facility effectively
several days earlier than under the standard two-test
regime. The changes will be in force from midnight on 31
December.

“We’ve been monitoring overseas
developments very closely, and, like many other countries,
New Zealand has heightened concerns about the new variants
of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly, and
the ongoing high rates of infection in some countries,”
Chris Hipkins said.

“We’re seeing asymptomatic
people coming across the border who are subsequently picked
up in day three testing, so this will pick them up as early
as possible. It will also help us identify earlier anyone
who sat close to them on flights.

“While growing
travel restrictions are being imposed in countries that host
airport hubs and by airlines themselves – which block
routes to New Zealand for the overwhelming majority of
travellers from higher risk countries – the New Zealand
Government is taking this extra precautionary step to
provide another layer of protection and to support our goal
of making summer unstoppable.

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“Our 14-day managed
quarantine and isolation regime is providing one of the
strongest border defences anywhere in the world. These
additional requirements for returnees from higher risk
countries will provide extra safety for people working in
the facilities and greater assurance for New Zealand
generally.”

Pre-departure testing for UK arrivals
to New Zealand

“Keeping the virus out remains our
biggest protection and as we’ve done all along, we
regularly review our settings and make changes where they
will make a difference,” Chris Hipkins
said.

“Plans for pre-departure risk reduction
measures, including testing for people leaving the United
Kingdom for New Zealand, are currently being worked on, with
a view to implementing them from mid-January. These include
selecting the most effective forms of testing in the
circumstances. Additional risk measures for other countries
are also being considered.

“Returnees will still
need to go through our 14-day managed isolation and
quarantine process, on arrival in New
Zealand.

“We’re aware this would present an extra
hurdle for Kiwis planning to return and we’re not
considering this lightly.

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“We’re going beyond what
we’ve done in the past, to stay ahead of what appears to
be a worsening situation globally and, in doing so, we would
reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading during transit and
entering our managed isolation facilities.

“An
eventual safe travel zone with Australia and Realm countries
will ultimately mean fewer people from lower risk countries
staying in our managed isolation facilities, thereby
allowing more people from higher risk countries to arrive.
Additional offshore risk measures including pre-departure
testing would help us prepare for the increased risk such
arrivals will bring to our facilities and to incoming
flights,” Chris Hipkins
said

© Scoop Media

 

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