Heather du Plessis-Allan: We need to be tougher at the border during lockdown

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Mar 2020, 3:59PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: We need to be tougher at the border during lockdown

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Mar 2020, 3:59PM

The Prime Minister’s promised to be “much harsher” at the borders to try to stop more coronavirus coming into the country, but what she has announced today is not going to cut it.

We should be quarantining everyone coming home from overseas, but we’re not.

What we’re doing instead is only quarantining people who already have symptoms, who don’t have plans to self-isolate alone, and who don’t have plans to get home by themselves.

Everyone else can come in and go into regular self-isolation like the rest of us.

Want to know the problems with that? People might not have symptoms yet when they arrive, but they might still be carrying covid-19 and getting sick later. In self-isolation they can still go to the supermarket, so there is still a way that they can make others sick.

And really, are we still doing this thing where we’re trusting people to do the right thing? Come on! That’s how Covid-19 arrived here in the first place.

We hoped people would self-isolate for two weeks after arriving here and yet look. We have cases of community transmission that we can’t explain, and we have heard countless stories of people ignoring the rules and instead going on helicopter rides.

These border controls aren’t good enough. We need to go harder.

Our cases of Covid-19 are almost all still popping up in people who’ve travelled and their close contacts. Just yesterday 100 people were stopped at the borders. Eight of them tested positive.

I want to be clear about how important quarantining is. This isn’t an idea dreamed up by a layperson like me. This is a call coming from Professor Michael Baker who, as I’ve said before, is an advisor to the health ministry on how to deal with pandemics.

We can’t afford to have more cases keep coming in and going into the community, because what that will mean is more lockdowns and longer lockdowns.

And tonight’s lockdown is going to cost us billions. We can’t afford to keep doing it.

We need to tighten up more at the borders.