On 20 March, the New Zealand Ministry of Health announced that 56 New Zealanders were on board a cruise ship from Australia and that four people on this cruise ship later tested positive for the coronavirus. This news is causing quite a stir in New Zealand.
Cruise ship from Australia
The cruise ship in question did not originate from New Zealand itself, but from Australia. The Ruby Princess, as the ship is called, left New Zealand on 15 March and returned to Australia on 18 March. When all the people on the ship were tested, it became clear that there were four cases of coronavirus infection. As a result, all 2,700 passengers on board, including the 56 New Zealanders, posed a risk of further contamination. The New Zealand government says they are already approaching all passengers, and advises persons who have been in contact with these passengers to watch out for possible symptoms of coronavirus.
The problem faced by the New Zealand government is that it is not only these 56 travellers who are at risk. All persons with whom they may have had contact afterwards may have become infected with the coronavirus. And in turn, these people may unwittingly spread the virus to others. This ensures that the government is constantly lagging behind. The only thing the government can do while the investigation is going on is to advise these people to isolate themselves from others until it is absolutely certain that they do not have the coronavirus.
Coronavirus in New Zealand
New Zealand has so far hardly had any cases of coronavirus. The total number of infections currently stands at 39, which is even less than the number of deaths in many European countries. One reason for this is the isolated location of New Zealand, but it is also due to the fact that not many tests have been done at all. Only 524 corona tests have been done throughout the country. The government plans to increase this number rapidly and it is therefore expected that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases will also increase.
Travelling to New Zealand: flying and visas
Both Australia and New Zealand are closing their borders to all incoming travellers, because the majority of coronavirus infections in these countries came from abroad. The only exceptions are persons with the New Zealand nationality. The travel ban came into force on 19 March. It is still unclear how long this will last.
This has consequences for the visa for New Zealand. Normally, this visa allows British and Irish travellers to travel to New Zealand without any problems. However, with this new travel ban, even travellers with a valid visa will no longer be allowed to travel to New Zealand. Only having a New Zealand passport will allow you to cross the border. The cost of an approved visa will not be reimbursed by the New Zealand Immigration Department.
However, visa applications for New Zealand are still being processed, since the New Zealand visa is valid for 2 years. This period of validity is much longer than visas for many other countries, which means that a visa applied for today or tomorrow can be used for a period of 24 months. If you are planning to travel to New Zealand in a few months or even a year, the visa can be applied for using the normal procedure.
Take note: the information in this article can be outdated. Before applying for a visa for New Zealand, read all about the current stat of affairs surrounding the coronavirus in New-Zealand.