New Zealand orders temporary suspension of flights from India

Rising number of cases prompts action until April 28, 2021

Venkat Raman
April 8, 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing temporary suspension of flights from India (Screenshot)

The New Zealand government took an unusual step of suspending – albeit temporarily – all flights to and from India following increasing number of arriving passengers tested Covid-19 positive over the past week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the suspension will come into effect from 4 pm on Sunday, April 11, 2021 and will remain in force until at least April 28, 2021.

She said that the extra time was required to follow the necessary legal procedures and follow bilateral and international protocols.

As per New Zealand law, citizens and permanent residents have the right to travel in and out of the country but there are exceptional circumstances that empower governments to manage borders when situations arise.

17 new cases from India

The decision followed 23 new positive Covid-19 cases in managed isolation, of which 17 are people who have arrived from India.

“Cases of the Virus have been on the rise internationally, with surges particularly in Brazil and India. We are starting to see this global trend mirrored here,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that the process will give the government time to assess risks.

High daily average

India has been experiencing high incidence of Covid-19 during the past week, with an average of 93,000 cases a day. United States of America in the second place with 64,000 cases a day, followed by Brazil with 63,000 cases.

Turkey has been reporting about 43,000 cases a day, while France has about 36,000 cases.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that testing suggested that cases from India were recent infections and possibly most passengers may have caught the Virus during their travel to New Zealand.

He said that the current assessment of cases arriving from India is that there is no reason to not take the predeparture testing documentation and results at face value.

“Individuals are becoming infected during their journey within India. Mumbai and Delhi have imposed curfews and there is a very active outbreak in Mumbai. These rising rates of infection are the most likely explanation for today’s cases,” he said.

Border worker tested positive

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old security guard at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland City (a designed MIQ facility) has been tested positive.

“He has tested Covid-19 positive four days after having a sore threat. He was not vaccinated. The man has been isolating at home overnight and will be transferred to the Jet Park quarantine facility,” Dr Bloomfield said.

He said that there is no evidence of community spread.

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