AUCKLAND (New Zealand Herald/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): New Zealand’s coronavirus reality check last week is a “timely wake-up call” crucial to moving towards a transtasman travel bubble, says The New Zealand Herald.
“There cannot be any complacency or missteps once our border controls are eased. The risks need be managed as well as possible,” said the country’s largest and most influential newspaper in an editorial today.
“There is time to ensure entry processes are running smoothly before the next big step.”
The Herald gave its verdict in the wake of a series of shock border lapses in a week that catapulted the country from virtually a 28-day covid-free status to nine active cases – four in the last two days. All are directly travel-related cases.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at her news briefing today that the government was extending a ban on cruise ships and updating its health order to make clear that travellers may be required to take multiple tests.
This followed weekend reports that Auckland’s covid-19 isolation facilities had reached capacity, with 4272 New Zealanders in managed isolation and almost 900 more expected to arrive in the country in the next two days.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the first case today was a teenage girl who arrived in New Zealand on June 13 and was travelling with her family, who have tested negative so far, reports RNZ News.
Runny nose, or no symptoms
They were staying at the Novotel Auckland Airport hotel.
Dr Bloomfield said the teenager’s only symptom was a runny nose. The second case was a man in his 30s who had arrived from India on June 15.
He was staying at the Grand Millennium in Auckland and had no symptoms.
“Fortunately,” said The Herald today, “in terms of new coronavirus infections, we have so far avoided much damage after the case of two sisters from Britain [last week] revealed that the isolation and testing systems had not been working properly…
“It is not as though other countries which have largely subdued covid-19 have avoided hiccups either.
“China has battled a spike in Beijing. South Korea had to hose down a virus flare-up centred around nightclubs.
“Germany has hundreds of new cases linked to abattoirs.
“Australia’s outbreak is at a low level, but it is still experiencing new infections and has more than 400 active cases.
Trump’s political rally
“As we held crowded Super Rugby Aotearoa matches for a second weekend, the United States debated the wisdom of President Donald Trump holding an indoor political rally in Oklahoma yesterday, which is experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.
“On Saturday, the US gained 32,000 new cases – the most in a day since May 1. The states of most concern are Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
What the saga of the two travellers from Britain and other such stories had told New Zealand, The Herald said, was that the public’s trust was easily shaken.
“Quick action to arrest a slide is then essential. The Prime Minister appears to understand that,” the newspaper added.
“Basic and obvious competence is the secret sauce any government and ministry need to maintain trust.”