New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a temporary ban on travellers from India starting April 11 due to the massive increase in Covid-19 cases, news agency Reuters reported.
“Cases of the virus have been on the rise internationally … with surges particularly in Brazil and India… we are starting to see this global trend mirrored here,” she says.
“We are temporarily suspending entry into New Zealand for travellers from India.”
The travel ban will be from 11 April to 28 April, she says, and is expected to be temporary.
It is the first time New Zealand has stopped citizens or residents from returning.
“I absolutely understand the difficulty this temporary suspension will cause,” Ardern says. “I understand that, but I also feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to find ways to reduce risk that travellers are experiencing.”
It is largely because of increasing numbers of cases arriving from India, with many believed to have contracted the virus while travelling to their international flight while in India.
India has been struggling with a sustained outbreak and is reporting a seven-day average of 93,000 new cases per day. The US is in second place with 64,000 and Brazil with 63,000. Turkey has 43,000 and France 36,000.
Cases in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities have increased from two or three a day to four to five a day for the rolling seven-day average.
“We want to see fewer cases arriving in general,” Ardern says. “Advice is people are likely getting the virus … as they travel to an airport and before they board a plane.”
The government is not looking at suspensions for other countries at the moment, Ardern says, in part because other countries with Covid-19 surging do not have as many people travelling to New Zealand as India.