Following yesterday’s post of new cases of coronavirus in Beijing after over 50 days, New Zealand reported 2 imported cases from the UK after 24 covid-19 free days.
The women arrived in Auckland on a flight from the UK via Brisbane, Australia, on 7 June. All new arrivals to the country – only New Zealanders, their families, and essential workers are currently permitted to cross the border – are required to spend two weeks quarantine in managed isolation at a hotel.
After six days after the women arrived, they travelled from Auckland to Wellington “in a private vehicle” after they were granted a compassionate exemption to do so, and made a safety plan with officials. They had not been tested for Covid-19 at the time. The pair had made the drive of approximately eight hours without refuelling their vehicle or disembarking for any reason, including to use public toilets. It is considered unlikely that the pair infected anyone else. The government has now suspended its policy of granting compassionate exemptions to quarantine rules. Click for full article
This example highlights the need for countries who have managed the pandemic well to be continuously vigilant, and emphasises that the greatest danger for both New Zealand, China and South Korea are imported cases of coronavirus. New Zealand has developed five key risk management approaches to achieve lasting protection against Covid-19. The systems they have put in place will be strengthened and improved as a result of this case.
Public use of fabric face masks in specific settings
Improve contact-tracing effectiveness with suitable digital tools
Apply a science-based approach to border management
Establish a dedicated national public health agency
Commit to transformational change to avoid major global threats
Click for full Guardian article and Jacinda Ardern video on becoming covid-free
Beijing and New Zealand had both declared themselves Covid-19-free by mid-June, life returning to an enviable normality of schools and shops, work and human contact. It didn’t last long.
Last week, parts of the Chinese capital went back on a “wartime” footing after a cluster of cases emerged linked to the city’s biggest wholesale food market. Movement restrictions are back and residents have already been warned against leaving the city. Schools are closed.
In New Zealand, two women who had flown in from Britain to see a dying relative tested positive after they had been released from quarantine for compassionate reasons.
The outbreaks have brought home the stark choices facing leaders who have successfully stamped out the virus or contained its transmission. If they want to hold on to that coveted status, their countries face months, perhaps years, sealed off from the world in a way unprecedented in modern times.