Data from the Ministry of Health shows that new Covid-19 screening arrival cards at airports and ports have been asking the wrong questions during the Covid-19 outbreak, and are still incorrect today, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“The arrival cards deployed in March ask three questions of whether people are experiencing cough, fever and difficulty in breathing symptoms.

“Sore throat is not included in the symptoms asked about even though it is actually the third most important symptom experienced by nearly 50 per cent of New Zealanders.

“New Zealand’s technical advisory group knew how important a sore throat was back in January and added it to the clinical criteria, months before the new arrival cards were deployed.

“Senior clinicians have raised concerns about whether we’re asking the right screening questions at the border and this shows their fears are valid.

“National is calling for the arrival cards to be amended so that they ask the three screening questions that are shown to be most relevant; cough, fever and sore throat.

“Whether or not someone has symptoms is a factor in determining whether someone goes into managed self-isolation or the much stricter form of quarantine. Our biggest risk for Covid-19 is at the border and basic screening errors like this could be the cause of an outbreak if not put right immediately.

“New Zealanders have sacrificed a lot to get us to the point we’re at. We can’t jeopardise this because we’re not taking appropriate precautions at the border.”

This written question from the Minister’s office shows the Minister’s acknowledgement that sore throat is one of the three most important symptoms.

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