17 Jun 2020

Kiwi in quarantine calls for all entries to NZ to be tested on arrival

7:52 pm on 17 June 2020

A man who is almost certain he was on the same flight as the two women who have tested positive for Covid-19 says people arriving in New Zealand need to be upfront if they have even mild symptoms.

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A man who has just arrived back in New Zealand says everyone needs to be tested on arrival. Photo: AFP

Ben Mason touched down in Auckland on 7 June, after flying from London via Doha and Brisbane.

While the vast majority of arrivals go into managed isolation for two weeks, people who have a cough or a sniffly nose are sent to higher-level quarantine.

At the airport, every passenger is met by someone who goes through a checklist of questions, Mason said.

Those questions include whether they've been in contact with someone with Covid-19 or if they've been feeling unwell.

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"Here is where I said I've not been feeling unwell, but I thought I might as well note that I've had hayfever in the last couple of weeks, so that was some crossing symptoms, so sneezing, itchy throat."

From there, Mason was sent to see a nurse. Because of his symptoms he was sent to a different hotel.

"Here I'm quarantined instead of isolating, because I pretty much confessed to having some of the symptoms and they wanted to play it safe."

But Mason was not sure everyone is quite so forthcoming.

"I have absolutely no doubt that a lot of people, when they've been questioned, say 'no, no, no, I haven't' and then get passed straight through."

He said that was why everyone needed to be tested on arrival.

Because he was in higher-level quarantine, Mason was told he wasn't allowed to leave his hotel room until he had been tested.

"I'm able to walk around now outside, but before [I had a negative test] I couldn't."

He's also been getting daily health checks, which have included a list of questions going through each of the symptoms of Covid-19.

"Everyone should be really, really cautious about this and should be saying everything that's wrong with their body really."

Mason was about to be tested a second time.

He was pretty certain he was on the same flight as the two women who have tested positive for Covid-19 - he flew the exact same route and arrived the same day.

He thought he was in line behind him and may have chatted to them while they were transiting through Brisbane.

Given he already had one negative test, he was not too worried about his own health, but he was worried about others.

"[The women] have obviously been in contact and sitting next to other people on the plane. It can be symptomless."

Mason said people coming into New Zealand should be extra-cautious - especially if they've been somewhere like the United Kingdom, where it's easy to come into contact with someone with Covid-19.

"It was such a normal thing, like you can easily bump into these people when you go for a shop at Tesco or something. These people who are coming back into New Zealand, they are a risk and they all need to be treated like that."

At the moment there are about 150 people in higher-level quarantine and more than 3400 in managed isolation.

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