Tuesday 23 November 2021

International Ed

Australia's reopening to international students.

New Zealand isn't. 

This is just getting crazy. 

There are safe protocols that can be run here. 

New Zealand could allow travel from safer countries, with a pile of testing and vaccination requirements. 

Start by requiring up-to-date full Covid vaccination for getting a student visa. That's pretty simple. Vaccination requirements have been part of international student visa requirements all over the place long before Covid. 

Then add in some testing. Require the standard PCR test a couple days before travel. Add a requirement that travelers pass a rapid antigen test administered at the gate before boarding, with Covid-positive students denied boarding. Add another RAT on arrival, with any remaining positive cases shunted into isolation. Remember that this is the protocol that was used in a trial for travel between the US and Italy late last year through early this year. There were just under 10,000 travelers. The RATs caught 4 positive cases at the airport before boarding and one more on arrival - among a group of people who'd all recently passed a PCR test. The folks running the trial concluded the RATs were pointless because 5/10,000 wasn't that risky. But we could do it. We could require it for airlines departing for New Zealand. 

And we could make it even safer. Take a saliva sample on arrival for PCR testing, require everyone to get the Covid tracer app, and require them to provide contact details. Add in a requirement to present for a Covid test a few days after arrival. 

Sequences of tests make it increasingly less likely that anyone passing all the tests are infected. There's just no way that someone coming in on that regimen is more risky than the random-draw person in Auckland currently. 

Or do all that and have the universities run a few days of MIQ, as they proposed doing back at the start of all this. It's far less risky now that vaccination is available. 

The borders are looking increasingly absurd. There are safe ways of doing all this. 

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