Christchurch – The Minister of Health Dr David Clark and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles have defended the government’s decision not to covid screen for all passengers arriving into New Zealand.
Pharmaceutical scientist Sir Ray Avery says this decision is just plain dumb and he wants all passengers to be required to clip a strict Kiwi covid ticket when they land in New Zealand.
Sir Ray says the theory for not testing on arrival is that if someone became infected on the plane then they would not show a positive test until days later.
“The problem with this thesis is that if there were one person on the plane seriously infected with covid and going up and down the isles coughing covid spraying and infecting every passenger, we would not know until days later,” he says.
“Passengers arriving into New Zealand are not subject to any temperature checks or covid-19 checks. The way we decide if someone is going into strict isolation and never being allowed to leave their room for two weeks is via a questionnaire.
“This asks the arriving passenger to self-determine if they have any covid-19 symptoms and if they tick yes then they are carted off to a secure quarantine facility. There are a couple of problems with this strategy.
“Firstly, many people infected with covid are asymptomatic and while they may have covid, they can genuinely tick they have no symptoms and are carted off to a less stringent quarantine facility where they can leave their room and mix with other quarantined people.
“Because they can mingle with other quarantined guests, they could theoretically infect someone in the quarantine facility who has just been tested negative at the end of their quarantine period and being allowed to be released.
“The second problem is Kiwis are not fond of rules, building permits for Kiwis are optional and a senior manager of a multinational drug company has said to me: ‘I had a bit of a temperature but if I ticked yes on the arrival form they would have locked me in my room for a couple of weeks, so I ticked no. I have no symptoms”. He actually had lunch with his wife at the hotel during his lockdown.
“The best strategy would be to test everyone on arrival for temperature and covid and then lock them in an isolated hotel room and retest them after three days and if all clear they can be released into a stage two quarantine facility.
“Right now, we are relying on a covid passenger arrival card declaration to determine how we deal with potentially covid infected passengers.
“As an arriving passenger, people can decide which quarantine level they are transported to.
“As a pharmaceutical scientist, I believe testing passengers on arrival and mandatory individual isolation would do two things.
“Firstly, it would shorten the time for detection of infected passengers and ensure all passengers are isolated from the general population until cleared of infection, before being allowed to mingle with other quarantined passengers.
Secondly, arriving passengers must be told, that as a rite of passage to enter New Zealand, they face strict covid practices to make sure that New Zealand is the safest place to visit and live.
“We need to develop a covid safety culture that is the best in the world. To enter paradise visitors and all passengers must clip the strict Kiwi covid ticket.
“We aim to protect our team of five million and incoming people can be sure they are safe by being tested and quarantined on arrival in Aotearoa.”
For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188