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(dpa) – New Zealand will suspend all travel from India after a surge of Covid-19 cases were detected at the border, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday.

The temporary suspension will begin on April 11 and will remain in place until April 28, Ardern told a press conference.

It will be the first time New Zealand has stopped its citizens or residents from returning home, she said.

“This is not a permanent arrangement but rather a temporary measure,” Ardern said.

On Thursday, health officials reported 17 of the 23 Covid-19 cases detected at the New Zealand border had arrived from India.

Ardern said she “absolutely” understood the difficulty the suspension would cause for travellers.

“But I also feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to find ways to reduce risk that travellers are experiencing,” she said.

During the suspension the government would look at how it could reduce the risk of Covid-19 from all high-risk countries.

The suspension would stop travellers from getting sick, but also reduce the risk in New Zealand’s quarantine facilities, Ardern said.

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