New Zealand Extends Ban on China Arrivals

By Zusmee Byamba

The New Zealand government announced on Monday that the ban on arrivals from China will be extended for eight more days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The ban that initially began four weeks ago in New Zealand was set to expire at midnight on Feb. 24.

But the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a post-cabinet press conference that the restrictions should remain for eight more days with a regular review every 48 hours.

She said that New Zealand citizens and permanent residents coming from China are still allowed to enter the country but would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Although sudden increases in infected people have been reported in South Korea, Italy, and Japan over the past few days, New Zealand continues to focus mainly on China as it is the “epicenter of the outbreak.”

Ardern said that the current restriction has bought time to understand the virus and prepare accordingly should the outbreak enter New Zealand.

“We are ready and we are very well prepared,” Ardern said. “We have a national supply of critical clinical equipment that is ready to be deployed as needed,” she said, which includes antivirals and 18 million masks.

“Negative pressure rooms across 15 DHBs,” are also available that would prevent room-to-room contamination, Ardern continued, referring to district health boards.

She said same-day testing facilities in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch are available, as well as a quarantine facility that could host 150 people.

“To the best of my knowledge, we may be one of the only countries in the world running a regime like that.”

According to Reuters, the virus has so far affected people in 28 countries.

Recent major outbreaks have forced Italy and Iran to place internal quarantines, and South Korea is currently on “red alert,” the highest of four alert levels, as coronavirus cases reached over 600.