More testing for Covid-19 tests for returnees from higher risk countries

The government has announced additional Covid-19 tests for returnees from higher risk countries including the UK and US.

Covid-19 Reponse Minister Chris Hipkins announced this morning that an additional
Covid-19 test will be required for those returnees on their arrival in New Zealand from midnight on 31 December.

The new border protection tests have been prompted by new virus variants and ongoing high rates of the disease in some countries.

“The extra PCR test will be applied on ‘day zero’, as returnees who’ve been in the United Kingdom or the United States during the preceding 14 days go through New Zealand airport controls, or on ‘day one’, after they arrive at a managed isolation and quarantine facility,” he said.

The new testing will be in addition to the current day three and day 12 tests.

“The returnees will also be required to be in isolation or quarantine in their allocated room at a facility until their initial test has returned a result.

“This means if the result is positive they will be transferred to a quarantine facility effectively several days earlier than under the standard two-test regime,” said Hipkins.

The changes will be in force from midnight on 31 December.

“We’ve been monitoring overseas developments very closely, and, like many other countries, New Zealand has heightened concerns about the new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly, and the ongoing high rates of infection in some countries.

“We’re seeing asymptomatic people coming across the border who are subsequently picked up in day three testing, so this will pick them up as early as possible.

“It will also help us identify earlier anyone who sat close to them on flights.”

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