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New Zealand’s Ardern says border workers must take COVID-19 vaccine after new cases

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern participates in a debate in Auckland

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that people working at the borders must be vaccinated by the end of this month or risk being moved out of the role, after a third coronavirus case related to a frontline staff was reported.

New Zealand has virtually eliminated the COVID-19 virus within its borders and there’s been no community transmission for more 40 days.

But it reported a positive COVID-19 in the community last week of a border worker who had missed two vaccine appointments. Two more cases linked to this individual has emerged since.

“By the end of April, those not yet vaccinated will not be permitted to work in high-risk workplaces and will be moved to other roles,” Ardern said at a news conference.

She said about 86% of border workers have been vaccinated.

New Zealand has started vaccinating its border and managed isolation facility workers and their family with BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines in its first phase. So far it has vaccinated over 90,000 people.

The country last week temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, following a high number of positive coronavirus cases arriving from the South Asian country.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Michael Perry)

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