Dr Leah Grout, Ameera Katar, Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Nick Wilson (*Author details)
Aotearoa NZ and Australian states have successfully eliminated community transmission of COVID-19, albeit with occasional outbreaks from imported cases. Both countries have primarily used hotel-based quarantine for returning travellers, but still do not have optimal border control. In this blog we consider potential lessons from Australia’s 17 quarantine systems failures for NZ.
Dr Leah Grout, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson
While succeeding very well with its elimination strategy, NZ still does not have optimal border control. We find since July 2020 there have been 13 identified border failures and at least 6 internal MIQ facility failures. The forthcoming quarantine-free “green zone” between NZ and Australia provides an opportunity for NZ to benchmark its MIQ/border management policies and practices with Australian States and Territories to identify improvements in both countries.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Leah Grout, Prof Michael Baker
In taking a systems approach to pandemic control, it is helpful to define what is meant by a “border control failure” so that such events can be used to guide performance improvement. This blog proposes specific definitions for the current context in Aotearoa NZ. It concludes that since July 2020, NZ has had at least 10 border control failures (9 via MIQ facilities and one via a port), and at least 5 “internal MIQ facility failures” involving spread between returnees.
Prof Nick Wilson*, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker
With the 2020 election over and with a newly elected government, it is an excellent time for a systematic review by NZ health authorities to identify optimal methods for reducing the risk of future COVID-19 outbreaks in Aotearoa/NZ. The persisting occurrence of cross-border incursions of the pandemic virus (five since 1 August, including a large outbreak in Auckland) highlights the need for such a review. In this blog we provide a framework for this systematic assessment and specific ideas for further risk reduction.
Prof Nick Wilson*, Prof Michael Baker
In this blog the arguments for and against shifting all COVID-19 related isolation/quarantine facilities to a single air force base at Ōhakea are considered. The main advantage would be a reduction in the risk of border control failures, which can potentially involve outbreaks in NZ’s largest cities with large health and economic impacts. The main disadvantage would be reduced numbers of returnees that could be allowed back into NZ, with these returnees assisting with economic recovery. There is therefore a need for an integrated health and economic analysis with the NZ Government being explicit about its decision-making.