New Zealand has removed self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers arriving in the country.
Previously, travellers entering New Zealand were required to self-isolate for seven days as a public health measure against Covid-19.
Experts welcomed the decision to remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in New Zealand as a practical and sensible move amidst a steady decrease in border Covid-19 cases.
Travellers arriving in New Zealand will still be required to have a negative Covid-19 test before departure and undertake two rapid antigen tests upon arrival in the country.
Anyone with a positive test result will have to report it and isolate for the same period as a New Zealand community case.
In a statement, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed border cases have decreased in the country – both in numbers and as a proportion of arriving travellers – over the past few weeks.
However, Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) would remain in place for unvaccinated New Zealanders, refugees and some community cases, he said.
University of Auckland public health Associate Professor Collin Tukuitonga backed the New Zealand government’s decision to withdraw self-isolation for new arrivals, saying it was a practical move and had logical public health evidence to support it.
However, he expressed concern about how removing self-isolation for arriving travellers will affect vulnerable groups in New Zealand.
He said that removing isolation essentially allows people to mix with each other and increase the risk of spreading the virus, leading to the number of Covid-19 cases rising in the country.
This would threaten public health among vulnerable groups in New Zealand, such as the Maori and Pasifika people.
This viewpoint was shared by University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank, who said that although the decision to remove self-isolation was logical given the drop in Covid-19 outbreak in recent weeks, it could still prove risky as it could accelerate the outbreak again.
Many experts called on the federal government to widen the term “fully vaccinated” by including the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly in the aftermath of the Omicron variant outbreak.