THE CONVERSATION ONLINE 17 March 2020 – New Zealand’s border restrictions will come with significant job and business losses in the tourism sector, both at home and in the Pacific. But the new travel rules are absolutely necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and people right across Pacific Islands, because New Zealand is a gateway country for many travellers entering the region.
Health systems in Pacific Island countries are under-resourced and people often live communally, putting them at greater risk of transmission. New Zealanders have good reason to be particularly aware of this because of the Samoan measles outbreak in late 2019, which claimed 83 lives. It is likely that the disease came into Samoa from someone travelling from Auckland.
Speaking at the University of the South Pacific in Suva last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised New Zealand would assist with issues such as climate change and infectious diseases because they are “border-less challenges and they demand a collective response”.