New Zealand’s border quarantine has intercepted thousands of COVID cases, but is it time to retire the flawed system?
As the government sets out New Zealand’s border reopening plan, University of Canterbury’s (UC) Professor Michael Plank, UC’s Giorgia Vattiatio, University of Auckland’s Professor Shaun Hendy and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research’s Audrey Lustig explain why MIQ may still be needed in the future.
Cabinet ministers are currently discussing changes to MIQ as part of a plan to reopen New Zealand’s borders, expected to be announced later today. This will update a staged timeline announced late last year, which was pushed back when the Omicron variant emerged overseas.
Since New Zealand’s MIQ system was established at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has intercepted more than 2000 cases at the border. Over half of these have been found in the two months since the start of December, following Omicron’s rise to global dominance.
If New Zealand had removed the requirement for international arrivals to go through MIQ last year, we would almost certainly have faced a large Omicron wave during December and January, just as happened in many Australian states. Does this matter, given we are now facing an Omicron wave anyway?
The answer is a clear yes.