Patrick Gower: Returning New Zealanders should be tested for COVID-19 on arrival at the border

OPINION: It is time for the Government to stop making excuses and actually test travellers on arrival at the border.

Yes, test for COVID-19 at the actual border and not three days later at hotels as we are now. 

Test people as they come into the country. Don't just hand them a pamphlet - make them take a test for the disease so those with the coronavirus can be identified as soon as humanly possible. Test them at the border, again on day three and once again on day 12.

Then we can separate them from the rest as fast as we can, and isolate and contact trace at the earliest possible point. Results would be back within 24 hours.

Under the current 'third day test', people are mixing and mingling until day four. Mixing with each other, with staff, with regular people while out on their exercise.

The threat is real: a cluster is breaking out at a Melbourne quarantine hotel, and staff as well as guests have caught COVID-19.

Clearly the Government has decided it is too hard to test at the border. To me, that means the Government is too lazy. It should at the very least be running trials or random testing every second day. 

But as we have seen with the substandard response at the border, the Government probably just can't be bothered. 

The bureaucrats will say we can't and the Government will put that through its spin machine.

But the question needs to be asked: why aren't we testing for COVID-19 on arrival? That would be a world-class response. 

The reality is that testing at the actual border will be needed going forward, both for the potential Anzac bubble and for overseas students.

If and when a 'rapid test' is developed, we will need to do it too.

So why not get on and do it - introduce testing at the actual border and get it going now. 

COVID-19 is getting worse overseas, it is raging. 

I have said all along that our border is our birthright and our greatest protection.

Let's use it to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Let's have the best border in the world.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's National Correspondent.