Submit Press release  · eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

New Zealand: TB Or Not TB?

$330K to send tourist with TB home  Sep 21, 2008

The Immigration Service says it's impractical to undertake the screening of short-term tourists which would have stopped a tourist entering New Zealand with an infectious illness.

Taxpayers eventually paid $330,000 for a charter flight to return the 67-year-old South Korean woman home.

She hid her medications to enter New Zealand, the Herald on Sunday reported.

Immigration authorities were alerted after the woman visited local doctors who diagnosed her condition.

The woman, then isolated for several months at Auckland Hospital before leaving, entered the country in May 2005 with a three-month visitor permit on the visa waiver scheme.

Immigration head Andrew Annakin said applicants for permanent residency and temporary entrants of up to 12 months needed to undergo health checks, but the cost of screening all visitors would be prohibitive.

"Since approximately two-and-a-half million short-term visitors arrive in New Zealand every year, it would be highly impractical to make every visitor and tourist go through an expensive screening process."

Dr Margaret Wilsher, the president of the Auckland medico-legal society, said in a paper written on the case that the woman had arrived with "extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis and was untreatable and hence incurable – and worse she was highly infectious".

Her three month stay in hospital cost about $2700 a day.

She said the woman's daughter organised the trip knowing her mother had incurable tuberculosis.

Doctors broke patient confidentiality to alert the Immigration Service in the interests of public health, after which a chartered jet fitted with a negative pressure chamber took her home at 3am "to avoid media scrutiny", Dr Wilsher said.

Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove did not comment, while National health spokesman Tony Ryall wondered if the $330,000 flight was the cheapest option.

About two million people die from tuberculosis worldwide each year.

$330K to send tourist with TB home

Premium Partners