There have been 894 arrivals from Fiji to NZ to date. Photo / Alex Burton
Nine cases of Covid-19 have been discovered in the past week among travelers from Fiji to New Zealand, a senior health official said.
Fiji is grappling with a worsening Covid crisis, with more than 14,000 positive people in isolation and more than 120 deaths reported by health authorities yesterday.
New Zealand official Harriette Carr said that by the onset of the current outbreak in Fiji – which began in April – the requirement for a Day Zero test was added for arrivals at Auckland Airport from Nadi.
There have been 894 arrivals from Fiji so far and, based on the latest information, the nine cases were discovered on the New Zealand border, Carr said.
From July 20, anyone arriving in New Zealand from Fiji will be required to enter a managed isolation and quarantine facility, she said.
Carr said the government created a “very high-risk country” category on April 28 this year to reduce the risk of large numbers of people infected with the coronavirus entering the country.
Countries in the “very high risk” category include Papua New Guinea, Brazil, India and Pakistan.
Carr said officials are continuing to monitor the situation in other countries in response to rapidly increasing infection rates in some parts of the world.
Based on what is happening in some countries and the prevalence of worrisome Covid-19 variants, New Zealand health authorities are monitoring the measures each country has taken and the risk to New Zealand’s border, she said.
Meanwhile, an international health rights advocate said multiple factors, including being pregnant, can influence the severity of Covid-19 infections in women.
In a virtual discussion about Fiji, Australian obstetrician Professor Caroline Homer said the risk of a serious infection could hinder mothers-to-be’s ability to fight the deadly virus.
Women over the age of 35 are more vulnerable to infections or diseases, including diabetics, obese or overweight people with a body mass index over 30, she said.
Homer warned that high blood pressure during pregnancy can put women at risk of getting severe Covid-19.
She said the number of preterm births could double for Covid-positive pregnant women.
“That means it’s more likely that your baby will need to receive care in a daycare or some sort of facility, sometimes separate from you and your family.”
Homer is co-program director for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne and Honorary Professor Emeritus of Midwifery in the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney.
Meanwhile, epidemiologist Professor Michelle Giles said there was no evidence that Covid-19 vaccines harmed unborn babies.
She told the panel that pregnant women who had not yet decided to get vaccinated should consider factors such as “that a severe infection from Covid-19 would have a worse effect on the unborn child”.
“We have no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccines adversely affect or have harmful effects on an unborn child,” Giles said.
“We actually have a lot of evidence that if you get Covid-19 it can be quite harmful to you as a mother and your baby.”
Giles said the risks to the mother of contracting the virus include serious illness and hospitalization and could affect the pregnancy.
“We also have evidence that if you get Covid-19 there is an increased chance of having an early or preterm birth that can have a significant impact on the baby.”
Giles is an infectious disease physician and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Monash University in Melbourne.