NZ’s borders fully open after long COVID-19 closure

People return to shopping at Newmarket in Auckland, New Zealand as some COVID-19 restrictions were eased, Nov 10, 2021. (ALEX BURTON / NEW ZEALAND HERALD VIA AP)

WELLINGTON / SINGAPORE / HANOI / PHNOM PENH / JERUSALEM / YANGON – New Zealand's borders fully re-opened to visitors from around the world on Monday, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic closed them in March 2020.

New Zealand's borders started reopening in February first for New Zealanders and restrictions have progressively eased.

The process of reopening the borders ended last night with visitors who need visas and those on student visas now also allowed to return to New Zealand. New Zealand is now also letting cruise ships and foreign recreational yachts docks at its ports.

Most visitors arriving in New Zealand still need to be vaccinated and must take two COVID-19 tests after arriving. However, there are no quarantine requirements.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday during a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland that the final staged opening of the borders had been an enormous moment.

"It's been a staged and cautious process on our part since February as we, alongside the rest of the world continue to manage a very live global pandemic, while keeping our people safe."

International students were a significant contributor to New Zealand's economy and educational providers are hoping the reopening of the borders will again provide a boost to schools and universities around the country.

New Zealand Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the return of cruise ships will also be a boost for local industries.

"Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. This means it will be full steam ahead for the industry," said Nash.

Villagers fill in their forms before receiving a dose of the Sinovac vaccine at a health center outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Feb 23, 2022. (HENG SINITH / AP)


World Health Organization representative to Cambodia Li Ailan on Sunday called on people to get their booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines as the number of daily cases has seen an uptick.

Thirty-six new cases were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on Sunday, lifting the national case tally to 136,789, with 133,517 recoveries and 3,056 deaths, the health ministry said, adding that no new deaths have been reported since April.

"We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases recently in Cambodia," Li wrote on social media. "Your health is precious. Get vaccinated with all doses recommended to you."

She said COVID-19 vaccination remains one of the most effective tools to prevent severe diseases, protect the health care system and ensure business recovery.

"Together, we protect the health care system and ensure a sustainable and successful reopening in Cambodia," she said.

Propelled by its high vaccination rates, the Southeast Asian nation has resumed all socioeconomic activities and reopened its borders to travelers without quarantine since November last year.

An Israeli paramedic collects a swab sample from a child at the Magen David Adom (Red Shield of David) COVID-19 coronavirus testing center in Jerusalem on Jan 11, 2022. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)


A nationwide vaccination campaign against COVID-19 for children aged six months to five years was launched in Israel on Sunday.

The vaccination will provide children "with an important protection layer against serious illness and post-COVID symptoms," said a statement issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health on Sunday evening.

The vaccine is especially recommended for children at risk of severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying health conditions that impair the immune system, the ministry noted.

The shots will either be three doses of the Pfizer vaccine or two doses of the Moderna vaccine, said the ministry.

Vaccination for children under the age of five was approved by the ministry's Director General Nachman Ash earlier this month, following a recommendation by a panel of experts.

Health workers give a first dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine to a woman, part of the 65 years and older tier, at a school being used as a vaccination site in Yangon on Feb 5, 2021. (STR / AFP)


Myanmar announced the extension of COVID-19 preventive measures until Aug. 31, according to the Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment for COVID-19 on Sunday.

The extension is applied to all COVID-19 restrictions that expired on July 31, except the ones that will be eased, the committee said in a statement.

The statement added that the extension covers all orders, announcements, directives previously issued by respective government organizations and ministries in order to contain COVID-19.

The Southeast Asian country confirmed nine new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 614,092, official data showed.

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 remained unchanged at 19,434 on Sunday, as no new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

Singapore Airlines stewardesses walk past a giant lollipop candy display at Changi International Airport in Singapore on April 1, 2022, as Singapore reopened its land and air borders to travelers fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. (ROSLOAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 5,106 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 1,714,056.

Of the new cases, 650 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 4,456 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 616 were local transmissions and 34 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 4,297 local transmissions and 159 imported cases.

Three more deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Sunday, raising the total death toll to 1,500, the ministry said.

A man passes walks past a billboard on the COVID-19 coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec 4, 2021. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 1,478 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down 192 from Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,779,632. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Sunday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,093.

As of Sunday, there were 50 severe cases in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.