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Airport screening for Coronavirus needed now

21 Jan 2020

From Chris Leitch , Leader


New Zealand health authorities’ decision not to screen at the country’s airports for the Coronavirus emanating from China is like passengers on the Titanic being told not to worry because the ship was unsinkable.

What makes New Zealand health authorities think they know more about the possible spread of the virus than those in Singapore. Hong Kong, Japan, and the US, all of whom have set up air passenger screening.

Leaving New Zealand's doors wide open to the possibility of a major virus outbreak which could seriously overwhelm the capacity of our already overworked and under under-resourced hospitals is utter madness.

Significant resources were mobilised to deal with a relatively minor measles outbreak yet the SARS- like pneumonia which has already killed a number of people is being treated as nothing more than an every day common cold.

Instead of sitting on its hands and being forced to react in several weeks time when a significant number of New Zealanders have caught the virus, our health authorities should setup immediate screening for all passengers on flights originating  from Asia in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.

Government sensibilities about the possibility of upsetting China if such a screening program was put in place need to be promptly put to one side.

The government needs to determine whether its priorities are the health and safety of New Zealanders or its cosy relationship with the Chinese government.

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