News Item

NZ imposes tougher travel restrictions as COVID-19 sweeps the globe

Media 16 Mar 2020

As New Zealand confirms eight positive cases of Covid-19, Prime Minister Hon Jacinda Ardern announced that all travellers whether visiting or returning to New Zealand are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Pacific are exempt from this restriction, however should anyone who arrives from the region experience flu-like symptoms will need to self-isolate.

"New Zealand has to date, relative to other countries, a small number of cases," PM Ardern said

"We have successfully managed to contact trace for every one of those cases, and are in the process of doing so for our latest one. This has been a critical part of our response."

"The key continues to be leaving our hospital system for those who need it most. All of this points to one strategy which has guided our decision making - spread the cases, and flatten the curve."

Although travelers from the Pacific are not required to self-isolate, governments from around the region have further imposed restrictions for visitors. There have been six cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the Pacific - three in French Polynesia and three in Guam.

Following the devastating impact brought on by the measles epidemic in late 2019, health professionals are wary of the rapidly spreading virus and what it could do to the Pacific region who have limited health resources.

In Samoa, travellers from 33 countries including Australia but not New Zealand are required to self-isoloate for two weeks and provide a medical certificate that proves they are not carrying coronavirus.

All visitors, including returning citizens will need to show proof of having undergone a medical check up within three days of arrival.

The Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga have banned cruise ships and have put in other restrictions (read here)

Information from Ministry of Health NZ

World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend any specific health measures for travellers but is continuing to review the situation.

WHO advises people follow the basic principles to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infection. These are: [1] avoid close contact with people suffering acute respiratory infections [2] wash hands frequently, especially after contact with ill people or their environment [3] avoid close contact with sick farm animals or wild animal [4] people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette: maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing and wash hands.

As always, travellers who become sick within a month of their arrival are encouraged to seek medical advice and phone Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or a doctor. It is important to mention recent travel history, and any known contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. To read the rest of the guideline, click here.