New Zealand has recorded 25 new cases of the coronavirus, the largest daily toll the country has reported since its initial outbreak peaked in March and April.
Two cases were local cases and the rest were discovered at the border, including 18 infections among Russian and Ukrainian fishing crews who arrived on a charter flight from Moscow days earlier.
The two new community cases reported on Wednesday were contacts of a port worker whose case was reported on Sunday. It was the first case of community transmission in New Zealand since September 25.
Wednesday’s figures underlined the pressure on border management systems to contain the virus in a country where daily life has largely returned to normal.
Ashley Bloomfield, the chief health officer, said: “Putting our cases today into perspective, Spain yesterday announced around 48,000 new cases, and that would be the New Zealand equivalent of around 4 000 new cases. [by population size].
“We are not complacent at the border and all New Zealanders need to make sure that they are not complacent in the community.
A total of 235 fishing crew members had arrived from Moscow on a flight chartered by a seafood company, New Zealand health officials said, with a stopover in Singapore during which they stayed. in the plane. It was the first of two scheduled flights of fishworkers to arrive in New Zealand from Russia – which has the fourth highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world.
New Zealand, by contrast, has recorded one of the lowest death rates in the world – 25 people have died – and less than 2,000 confirmed cases of the virus. Its success has been attributed to one of the toughest lockdowns in the world in March and April. All national restrictions on the country have since been lifted.
Today, border controls are what stand between the isolated South Pacific island nation and the pandemic. Only New Zealanders and their families are allowed to enter the country and must spend two weeks in quarantine, during which they are tested twice for the virus.
The exemptions allow essential workers to cross the border – Russian and Ukrainian fishing crews among them. The workers had to self-isolate for 14 days before leaving Moscow, the top New Zealand health official said on Monday, and were all tested before leaving. Crews are accommodated in the quarantine facilities at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch.
Two people were barred from boarding the flight after testing positive, Bloomfield said. The other infections were detected during an additional round of testing in Christchurch, New Zealand, where they were in government-run quarantine.
“The fact that we’ve found these infections is absolutely how the system works,” Bloomfield said.
The crews were the only people staying at the hotel where they were being quarantined, Bloomfield added. People working at the airport when travelers arrive and those driving the bus they were on will be tested for the virus.
Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago, said additional restrictions should be placed on arrivals from countries with high Covid-19 numbers. Russia has recorded 1.4 million cases and 25,000 deaths.
“We might if we found out in those home countries that they were still not functioning well, that we might not accept travelers from those countries,” he said.
There are 56 active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, 53 of them in government-run isolation centers.
• This article was modified on October 21, 2020 to remove an unrelated video, which was included in error.