New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a temporary suspension of travellers from India including its own citizens, starting April 11 due to the massive increase in the number of Covid-19 cases arriving from the South Asian country.
The temporary ban on travellers begins from 4 pm local time on April 11 and will be in place until April 28. During this time the government will look at risk management measures to resume travel, PM Ardern said in a news conference in Auckland.
Ardern emphasized that the arrival of Covid from India has prompted the suspension of the entry of travellers from India. The government will be looking at how to manage high-risk points of departure generally. This is not a country-specific risk assessment, she said.
The decision was taken after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases at its border on Thursday, of which 17 were from India. It was reported that a border worker tested positive for Covid-19, he was yet to be vaccinated.
When asked about the temporary ban on travellers from India, Ardern said the suspension is temporary because the government is obliged to allow citizens to return to New Zealand. I feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to find ways to reduce the risk that travellers are experiencing, Ardern said.
The suspension will give authorities time to figure out issues with pre-departure tests. Further, the government is not considering a travel ban on other countries, added Ardern. However, its government has put in place a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia last week which will be effective from April 19.
So far, New Zealand has virtually eliminated the deadly virus within its borders and has not recorded any Covid-19 cases transmitted locally for about 40 days. But it’s been reviewing its border settings as more travellers with infections arrived recently, the majority being from India.