Mandatory COVID-19 testing for travellers from China an overreaction, New Zealand officials reported saying

By Soumya Bhamidipati for RNZ

New Zealand health officials agreed with their Australian counterparts that introducing mandatory COVID-19 testing for travellers from China was an overreaction, official correspondence suggests.

Australia is implementing the measure anyway, while officials here are yet to announce a decision.

It comes as COVID-19 case numbers in China are thought to be surging, and the World Health Organisation urges Beijing to provide more data.

In a letter addressed to the Australian health minister, seen by RNZ, the chief medical officer of Australia, Paul Kelly wrote there was not "sufficient public health rationale" to tighten restrictions.

He said he had discussed the situation with New Zealand public health officials via a health protection committee on 30 December. The officials involved were not named in the letter, but Kelly wrote that the parties were of the same view.

"There is strong consensus that implementation of any restrictions to travel from China at this time would be inconsistent with the current national approach to the management of COVID-19 and disproportionate to the risk."

A public health risk assessment was completed here after Australia changed its travel requirements, and ministers received advice on the matter last night, but there is no word on when a decision might be announced.

Duty Minister Stuart Nash earlier said the situation in China was unfolding rapidly.

"Our response will remain proportionate to the potential risks posed by travellers and in the context of the international situation."