The challenges of containing inevitable outbreaks once borders reopen should not be underestimated. That’s why elimination remains the guiding principle and mass vaccination the imperative.
New Zealand and Australia both had COVID-19 outbreaks originating from border facilities, but as frontline border workers are prioritised for vaccination, the risk of this happening again is lower.
The highly infectious nature of the COVID-19 variant, and the fact the infections have no clear link to the border, leaves the worrying possibility of a more widespread community outbreak.
The approval of the first of four COVID-19 vaccines marks the first step in New Zealand’s plans for a Pacific-wide immunisation rollout.
Multiple borders have always existed in Aotearoa New Zealand. We just weren’t as aware of them before the pandemic started locking down communities.
Despite the latest tweaks to border testing rules, the risk of imported infection remains very high. NZ’s wider response needs upgrading —including reducing the large numbers of infected returnees.