Case for pre-departure testing becomes more compelling

The 10 positive cases of Covid-19 that arrived into New Zealand on flight AI1354 may have been prevented with pre-departure testing, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

Of the 12 new cases announced yesterday, 10 of them arrived on one flight.

This follows 17 cases from flight AI1320 that arrived from the same region to Auckland just over a month ago. Between then and yesterday’s arrival at least one private flight arrived in Auckland from the same region with several hundred people on board who received pre-departure testing and subsequently were all clear of Covid-19.

National has announced it will follow many other countries and require people coming into the country to not only quarantine but also test themselves for Covid-19 three days before departure, and provide the results of that test to airline staff before boarding their plane. Public Health expert Dr Michael Baker yesterday also endorsed this approach.

“Pre-departure testing effectively pushes our border offshore and strengthens our protection from coronavirus,” Dr Reti says.

“Labour can’t let bloody-mindedness stand in the road of strengthening our border.

“Labour’s failures at the border have already brought on another wave of Covid-19, the consequences of which were New Zealanders’ jobs, businesses and livelihoods.

“Reducing the need for lockdowns could not be more crucial. The first lockdown saw 215,000 Kiwis end up on unemployment benefits with another 1.6 million jobs kept alive by wage subsidies.

“National will protect New Zealanders from Covid-19 and allow our economy to flourish with a comprehensive border plan that includes pre-departure testing.”