Professor Shaun Hendy: “We need to be better at following up with travelers and understanding where they are going.” Photo / Greg Bowker
One expert called for stricter checks on travelers leaving New Zealand as soon as arriving here after receiving news that hundreds of new arrivals had departed for Australia.
NZ statistics have confirmed that the 549 people who arrived in New Zealand on or after October 1 left for Australia in October or November.
Most of them (492) are residents of New Zealand, and many are believed to be flight crew and business people who still travel regularly despite the Covid ban.
But Professor Shaun Hendy of the University of Auckland, who has become an example of the risks of international travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the figures show the need to track down all those who leave quarantine in case of another outbreak in the community.
“We need to be better at following up with travelers and understanding where they are going,” he said.
“If we ever consider a situation where we ask for a follow-up [in a community outbreak], then we want to be able to ask people to come for the test and for further interaction with the border system, so it’s important to know whether they remain in New Zealand or not. “
The latest figures come after Australian authorities said that 12 people had been quarantined at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel at the same time as people who contracted Covid there last month. traveling to Sydney.
Three of them traveled from Sydney to Hong Kong, two went to Queensland and seven others lived in New South Wales.
NZ statistics say the 549 people who arrived in New Zealand after October 1 left in October or November – 39 in October and 510 in November, the latest figures available.
Australia allows New Zealanders to traveling without quarantine to New South Wales and the Northern Territory from 16 October, to South Australia from 20 October, to Victoria from 9 November and to Queensland from 12 December.
New Zealanders traveling to Western Australia still have to quarantine for 14 days.
The 549 people who arrived in New Zealand after October 1 and traveled to Australia before the end of November represented 2 percent of the 24,133 people who arrived in New Zealand in those two months, and a similar proportion of the 27,106 who left New Zealand. country in those months.
Nearly all (492) of the 549 people were New Zealand residents, with only 57 residents of other countries entering New Zealand after 1 October and leaving on 30 November.
New Zealand Statistics population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said the 549 arrivals who traveled to Australia included flight crew, who had to undergo Covid tests every seven days but do not have to be quarantined for 14 days.
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he had asked officials “to consider the entire process and to explore whether the system could be modified so that those who depart quickly for Australia can and should pay a premium to stay in MIQ”.
“I don’t see any evidence of specific motivation why people travel to Australia within months of landing in New Zealand,” he said.
“There may be various reasons, and travelers can include any number of New Zealand nationals.
“We need to strike the right balance in recognizing people’s rights to freedom of movement by fairly managing the MIQ’s limited resources and the Kiwi’s right to return.”