MERS: New Zealand halts disinfection requirements for tourists

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New Zealand’s mid-season Pacific Magic rugby tour of the UK and Europe ended in June, when the Queen’s Baton relay was halted amid security fears New Zealand’s government…

MERS: New Zealand halts disinfection requirements for tourists

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New Zealand’s mid-season Pacific Magic rugby tour of the UK and Europe ended in June, when the Queen’s Baton relay was halted amid security fears

New Zealand’s government is to ease rules for international tourists who have had the vaccine for the coronavirus.

Both countries remain at severe alert for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The Ministry of Health says the move is to protect the tourism industry and will come into effect in 2022.

In June, the Queen’s Baton relay was halted in the United Kingdom amid security fears.

It was instead brought forward to New Zealand.

MERS first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread across the Middle East, including to Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

New Zealand was previously on its own MERS watch list, but last September it removed itself from a category that includes South Korea and Australia after finding no cases in more than 18 months.

An outbreak of MERS in April affected 10 people and was finally declared over in May.

In the UK, five cases of MERS have been reported this year, with two of those in 2017 – though none of those identified are infected with MERS A.

In response to fears over the UK and Belgium, the New Zealand Department of Health said on its website that “while the risk of contracting MERS from international travel remains low, it is in the best interests of public health to have a review of travel advice”.

Image copyright AFP Image caption At least one of the cases reported this year in Belgium is thought to be of the Middle East respiratory syndrome

The review will look at allowing foreign visitors who have had a MERS vaccination to enter the country without needing to wait for their immunisation to become effective before they travel.

The government adds that there will be no additional quarantines in place for those who have had an MERS vaccination as there are not anticipated to be any cases related to travel to New Zealand or other countries where MERS has been imported.

NZ first learned of an MERS outbreak in Saudi Arabia in 2016, and shortly afterwards upgraded the country to the main risk level on its annual international travel map.

The virus is a type of coronavirus that can cause fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said:”The uncertainty posed by MERS is not helpful to the New Zealand tourism industry, which is largely made up of overseas visitors who must travel to this country with up-to-date personal protective equipment.”

“Tourism is an important pillar of New Zealand’s economic wellbeing and is already facing some uncertainty this year following the Saudi Arabian Government’s decision to ban Kiwi tour groups from their beaches.”

Reuters and BBC Monitoring

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