New Zealand has joined a global commitment under the International Health Regulations (2005) to plan, prepare for and be able to respond promptly to acute public health threats to both New Zealand and the wider international community.
Risks to public health include the international spread of established infectious diseases, such as polio or Ebola virus disease, emerging infections, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and other sources (eg, chemicals, radiation, vectors and other pests of public health significance).
Border health protection measures focus not only on the health and wellbeing of international travellers and aircraft and ship crew but also on that of the wider New Zealand public, who could be exposed to health threats introduced as travellers enter and move around the country.
The main groups of health measures discussed in these guidelines are:
- travel measures at international points of entry
- measures to manage symptomatic and/or exposed travellers
- exit measures.
The health measures considered most viable for implementing at New Zealand points of entry in response to public health threats include:
- providing proactive public health advisories and alerts for travellers
- enabling traveller self-reporting
- providing passenger locator information to manage symptomatic and exposed travellers
- having a visible public health presence at points of entry
- screening travellers from high-risk countries or with high-risk exposures to provide them with targeted advice
- using a range of communication platforms to get information to people (electronic message boards, forms and handouts, targeting ‘meeters and greeters’, etc)
- providing landside monitoring and support to travellers (not airside)
- isolating symptomatic travellers
- offering treatment for symptomatic travellers
- tracing contacts
- conducting regular point-of-entry workforce briefs (eg, personal protective equipment training).
Other measures may be appropriate in specific situations, and the Ministry of Health will provide recommendations and advice on a case-by-case basis.