Register your overseas travel and/or residential details here.
On 11 June 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an Influenza Pandemic. It raised its Influenza Pandemic Alert from Phase 5 to Phase 6, its highest level, which means there is global spread of the ‘Swine Flu’ or Pandemic Influenza virus. In temperate regions of the northern hemisphere (including North America and much of Europe), influenza has arrived early in the flu season with pandemic H1N1 influenza the main strain. See the WHO website for more information, including regular updates on the location and number of confirmed Pandemic Influenza cases.
New Zealand Situation
The pandemic virus is likely to still be circulating in New Zealand, although at very low levels. Another wave of infection is expected in the coming months and it is recommended that people continue to take basic precautions such as regular hand washing. See the New Zealand Ministry of Health website for more information, including advice on health precautions to take, signs and symptoms of illness, and when to seek medical advice.
Advice for New Zealanders Travelling and Living Overseas
As the pandemic continues to unfold globally, New Zealanders travelling and living overseas may find their travel plans and everyday lives disrupted, especially if they become ill with influenza.
Depending on the situation in the country you are in, it is possible the local authorities may temporarily close workplaces, schools, day care facilities, shopping centres, banks, cinemas, bars, restaurants, tourist sites, sporting facilities and government offices in an attempt to control the spread of the illness.
We recommend all New Zealanders travelling or living overseas register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- Quarantine and Border Control Measures
New Zealanders with flu-like symptoms are advised to consider delaying their overseas travel.
Some countries may implement strict quarantine and border control measures for travellers who are suspected of being exposed to the Pandemic Influenza virus.
On arrival you may be questioned or screened for signs of illness and quarantined if you appear unwell or have been travelling on a flight or ship with other passengers who appear unwell. Most countries have designated quarantine facilities but some may offer only basic conditions. In some instances family groups may be split up when quarantined.
New Zealanders are advised to conform with any restrictions and instructions issued by the local authorities to contain the spread of Pandemic Influenza. Failure to do so may result in penalties such as fines and/or imprisonment.
If you are quarantined overseas, ask the local authorities to contact the closest New Zealand Embassy / High Commission so we are aware of your situation. New Zealand officials will attempt to make contact with you by phone but are unable to influence which facility you are assigned to or the length of time you spend in quarantine.
For more information, contact the Embassy / High Commission of the country you plan to visit / transit.
- Health Advice
We recommend health precautions like regularly washing your hands, avoiding large gatherings of people and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick. For more information on health precautionsyou should follow, see the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.
For information on when you should seek medical advice, see the New Zealand Ministry of Health website or consult a local health practitioner if you have flu-like symptoms.
- Access to Health Care
Health care facilities in some countries may lack some resources that are available in New Zealand and be overburdened due to the number of people seeking medical attention for influenza-related illnesses during the pandemic.
Should you fall ill, you may have problems getting medical attention in a timely manner – even in an emergency. During the pandemic there may also be shortages of certain medicines such as anti-viral medication. This is something you should carefully consider prior to making travel plans. You may wish to discuss with your doctor whether you should take a supply of anti-viral medication (like Tamiflu) with you when you travel. Ensure you take enough of your usual medications for both length of travel and a contingency supply if your travel is disrupted.
- Preparation Prior to Travel
We recommend all New Zealanders travelling overseas have comprehensive travel insurance policies in place that include provision for medical evacuation by air and cover any pre-existing medical conditions. Prior to departure you should check any exclusions that may apply to your policy.
We also recommend you consult your doctor 4-6 weeks before you travel for advice on vaccinations, medications (including Tamiflu) and health precautions you should be taking. Certain pre-existing medical conditions put you at greater risk of developing serious complications should you fall ill with influenza. See the New Zealand Ministry of Health website for more information or discuss with your doctor.
The New Zealand Government is unable to pay medical costs for you overseas, provide you with medication should you fall ill, or pay for your repatriation to New Zealand.
- Embassy Services
As far as possible, New Zealand Embassies and High Commissions will continue to provide essential services to New Zealand citizens during the pandemic, although some services may be limited in badly affected countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the New Zealand Government issue a warning to New Zealanders living or travelling abroad before the borders are closed?
What can I do if the New Zealand border is closed while I am overseas?
For further information, see our advice:
If you are currently travelling or living overseas and require assistance, please contact your closest New Zealand Embassy / High Commission
Alternatively, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington.
Page last updated: Tuesday, 15 December 2009, 15:10 NZDT