A new ‘very high risk’ group has been created for country with greater Covid-19 numbers.

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The New Zealand government is creating a new category of “very high risk country” which includes India, Brazil, Pakistan, and Papua New Guinea, in order to strengthen the country’s defence against Covid-19.

These updates will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 28.

Countries would be designated as’very high risk’ if there are more than 50 cases of Covid-19 per 1000 arrivals to New Zealand from those countries in 2021, and if there are more than 15 visitors per month on average.

Watch the announcement from Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins here:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today that any case at the border creates addition pressure on our border and managed isolation facilities.

“We have to provide a pathway for New Zealanders to come back…we would not restrict the right of New Zealanders to return home.”

The accumulative risk to New Zealand from travellers from India has been looked at, said Hipkins.

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“From India alone, this is expected to reduce the number of potential positive cases coming to New Zealand by an estimated 75 percent.

“We are talking about hundreds of people who could be affected by this.”

He stated that the new category was “not an easy decision” and that it would be checked on a regular basis.

According to Hipkins, the majority of controlled isolation facilities would transition to a community intake scheme. A MIQ facility will begin empty, and for the next 92 hours, plane loads of people will be delivered to the hotel, and until completed – or after the 92 hours – the facility will be shut down for two weeks.

Beginning tomorrow, the Pullman hotel will be the first to welcome cohorted arrivals.

Because of the current cohort scheme, Hipkins predicts that more rooms in MIQ will remain vacant.

“This is done purely based on a risk assessment.”

“We’ve applied a formula,” Hipkins said, adding that this was not a discriminatory measure.

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The first assessment of high risk countries will take place within the next two weeks, Hipkins said.

The number of cases that have made it out of the border was very small, Hipkins said. But when there was more positive cases in MIQ this increased the risk, he said.

Flights from India have been grounded for nearly two weeks, and Hipkins has previously stated his unwillingness to prolong the provisional ban past its expiration next week.

On April 11, a two-week ban on all travellers coming from India went into effect, following an increase in Covid-19 cases registered at the New Zealand border from people who had been in India.

This was despite the fact that pre-flight monitoring revealed the passengers were free of the virus 72 hours before departure.

India currently has the largest one-day list of new Covid-19 cases anywhere in the world, as well as the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour span.

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