The New Zealand government said on Wednesday it would not require travelers from China to produce a negative COVID-19 test, bucking a trend that has seen a number of nations implement such measures as cases surge in China.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 minister, Ayesha Verrall, said in a statement that a public health risk assessment had concluded visitors from China would not contribute significantly to the number of cases in the country.
“There is minimal public health risk to New Zealand,” she said.
A number of countries including Britain, the United States and Australia have demanded that traveler’s from China produce a negative COVID-19 test over concerns about the scale of the country’s outbreak and skepticism over Beijing’s health statistics. The move has been criticized by Chinese state-media as discriminatory.
Infections in China have spiked after the country dropped its strict zero-cases policy on Dec 7, allowing the virus to spread.
All international arrivals in New Zealand are asked to test if they become symptomatic and the country provides free tests at the airport.
Officials will be asking some travelers from China to do voluntary tests to gather more information, which Verrall said reflected New Zealand’s concern alongside that of the World Health Organization about China’s lack of information sharing.
New Zealand is also planning to trial testing waste water on international flights to see if this can replace targeted and voluntary testing of individuals.
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