Mandeep Bela looks to the soaring Covid-19 cases in the United States and Brazil and looks at the heartbreaking stories within the Indian community and has one question: Why India?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced that arrivals from India were being suspended between April 11 and April 28.
The decision comes after 17 of 23 new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation announced on Thursday had arrived from India. India is also seeing its highest number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.
But Bela, coordinator of the Indian Workers Association in New Zealand, points out that the United States and Brazil have had more cases than India and no change had been made to arrivals from there.
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“This is the question we want to ask the Government, why only India?” Bela said.
He believed the current managed isolation and quarantine procedures, done correctly, were enough to keep the virus out.
Even before the announcement, New Zealand’s tight border rules meant heartbreaking stories.
He knew of families separated and parents who had not seen children since lockdown began.
Just this week he heard of a New Zealand Indian man who had secured a good job in New Zealand, returned to India to marry, then got stuck there. He had since lost that job.
“There are really, really sad stories.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said health officials believed people were catching Covid in India on their way to the airport, meaning the cases were not being picked up by pre-departure testing.
“I don’t want people to experience that risk,” Ardern said during a press conference on Thursday.
It was not the Government’s intention for the restrictions to be a long-term tool, she said.
India reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began on Monday.
The Health Ministry in India reported 103,558 new Covid-19 infections in the 24-hour period on Monday, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September.
Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield earlier on Thursday said additional requirements may be introduced for travellers from high-risk countries such as Brazil and India.
But he said he hadn’t specifically advised the Government to reduce the amount of people travelling from high-risk countries or halting the flights.