New Zealand’s borders are likely to remain closed for most of the year depending on the progress in the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said On Tuesday January 26th, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country’s borders are likely to remain closed for most of 2021. The deacons will depend on the progress in the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus. The country had closed its borders to foreigners and non-residents back in the spring of 2020.
Ardern explained that this past weekend, the first case of contagion in more than two months had been reported, which shows that the risk of a wide spread is far from over. New Zealand has managed to keep Covid at bay for the past few months, and authorities do not want to risk any potential waves of contagion linked to arriving travelers.
“Given the risks in the world and the uncertainty about international vaccination campaigns, we can expect our borders to be affected for much of the year,” said the Primer Minister. She also indicated that New Zealand would continue to authorize the entry of foreigners arriving through “travel bubbles” with Australia and Pacific nations where the new coronavirus is under control. She regretted Canberra’s decision to suspend the “bubble”, which allowed exemption from quarantine for the inhabitants of both countries, following the registration of a contagion case in New Zealand.
New Zealand registered its first positive case outside quarantine facilities since the 18th of November, after a 56-year-old New Zealand woman, who recently returned from Europe, tested positive. According to various local media, the woman in question spent 14 days in quarantine and tested negative twice – once upon arriving in her country and once in the middle of this period – before returning to her home on January 13.
However, the woman began to develop symptoms later on, and although the local government has already stated that there is no evidence that the virus is spreading in the community, Forbes cites a member of the government claiming that it is likely that she caught him at the hotel facilities where he was quarantined. According to the magazine, there is some evidence indicting that the woman has the South African variant of the virus – the most aggressive one – and as such, the local authorities do not intend to take any unnecessary risks. At least 15 of the woman’s close contacts have been identified and contacted, and the closest relatives have already tested negative. Because of this case, Australia has decided to temporarily interrupt the travel ‘bubble’ without quarantine with New Zealand.
The woman left the hotel where she was being quarantined on January 13 and traveled home in the Northland area; began to develop mild symptoms on January 15 and they got progressively worse; she was tested on January 22 and only then was self-isolated at home. There are concerns that she may have spread the virus unknowingly to other people in Northland and Whangarei.
New Zealand has been one of the most successful countries in the world in the fight against Covid-19: with a population of about five million, it had just over 2,200 cases of coronavirus, of which only 25 people died.