Amid fears over highly infectious new Covid strains, extra testing extended to most travellers to NZ

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Most travellers coming into New Zealand will undergo the extra 'day zero' Covid-19 test and will be required to stay in their managed isolation room until a result has been received. 

The pre-departure Covid-19 test requirement will also be extended at a later date to all countries excluding Australia and some Pacific nations. 

Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement today, "that passengers from any destination excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations will be required to undergo Day 0/1 testing upon arrival in New Zealand". 

It will begin next Monday.  

From January 1, only passengers who had been in the UK and US 14 days prior needed to have a 'day zero or day one' test, on top of the day three and 12 tests, with other high risk countries considered on a case-by-case basis.

Now, travellers from all countries will need to have the additional test, meaning they would have to stay in their managed isolation hotel room until a result comes through. If the test comes back positive, the traveller is transferred to a quarantine facility. 

The requirement to return a negative Covid test pre-departure will also soon be extended from just the US and UK, to include all countries. 

Today's announcement also included a provision for Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield being authorised to soon expand the pre-departure test requirement to all countries and territories excluding Australia, Antarctica and some Pacific Island nations.

Earlier today, National's leader Judith Collins today said the Government should urgently extend pre-departure testing amid the threat of "highly-infectious strains of Covid-19 that are ravaging the UK and South Africa". 

Originally, from this Friday at 11.59pm, travellers coming into New Zealand from UK and US would need to return a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure. 

"If we want to enjoy the rest of our Kiwi summer then the Government must make pre-departure tests a requirement for all travellers immediately," Collins said. 

"There are many other high-risk countries that have widespread cases of the new Covid-19 variants."

In a statement from a Government spokesperson sent this morning, it said the there had been work done over summer "to stay on top of the new strains and the worsening global situation". 

"Ministers have taken further actions to strengthen our border protections over the summer, and will not hesitate to introduce more protections as necessary.

"The latest actions includes introducing day zero testing for returnees from higher risk countries and requiring these people to stay in their rooms in managed isolation until they return a negative test.

"We will also be requiring pre-departure testing before returnees from the UK and the US can enter New Zealand starting from this Friday, and are looking closely at other long haul routes."