According to Immigration New Zealand, American billionaire Larry Page met the necessary requirements to enter the country despite the Covid-19 border restrictions.
According to RNZ, the Google co-founder came to New Zealand after his child became ill and needed medical treatment in an Auckland hospital.
Health Minister Andrew Little stated in Parliament today that the request, which was received by the Ministry of Health on 11 January, met all of the requirements for a medevac flight and entry into New Zealand at the time.
“The day after the application was received, a New Zealand air ambulance – staffed by a New Zealand ICU nurse escort – medevaced the child and adult family member from Fiji to New Zealand,” Little said.
“On arrival, the child and adult were taken immediately to an isolation environment in the hospital.”
The family has been spending the Covid-19 pandemic in Fiji, where the outbreak is escalating.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the media that she was unaware of Page’s visit to New Zealand.
“Nor would I be. We have roughly … 100 medevacs into New Zealand [a year]. The decision for a patient to be part of a medevac is made by clinicians so, no, I’m not advised of every single individual.”
She said politicians did not make such decisions, nor should they, and she was not in a position to discuss the immigration status of anyone who happened to be medically transported to New Zealand.
“It happens for all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons … I don’t think it’s necessarily important for me to know the private medical details.
“I think everyone in New Zealand would want to know, if they were in those circumstances, doctors were making those decisions not politicians.”
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said he was informed about the border application by Immigration NZ under the ‘no surprises’ policy.
Nicola Hogg, general manager of Border and Visa Operations, said Page was not a permanent resident of NZ.
She cited privacy reasons for the department not commenting further.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, 99 people from the Pacific have been allowed to enter New Zealand for medical treatment.
They include a UN employee who was evacuated from Fiji last week.
According to the Ministry of Health, those patients did not have to undergo managed isolation prior to treatment.
When they are released, they must either leave the country or complete the remaining 14-day isolation period.
According to the ministry, the clinical assessment includes a check to ensure that the required treatment is not available locally.