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Cabinet approves new health testing for migrants

Cabinet has approved new immigration procedures aimed at protecting the health of all New Zealanders, the Ministers of Immigration, Health and associate Immigration announced today.

The Ministers, Tuariki Delamere, Wyatt Creech and Lockwood Smith said that from 1 July 2000, the list of diseases for which mandatory tests are carried out will expand to include HIV, and other tests will be added should research indicate their applicability.

Currently only tuberculosis and syphilis tests are mandatory. No extra blood test will be required for the expanded list.

These requirements apply to applicants for residence (including genuine refugee status seekers), people who intend to work or study in New Zealand for two years or more, and people proposed by the UNHCR for the refugee quota.

"The move is in keeping with our policy to balance the rights of entry with the potential risks to New Zealanders. It is purely a preventative step. It also brings us into line with Australia. The Minister of Immigration will retain the discretion to admit would-be migrants on humanitarian or other exceptional grounds.

"We note that current immigration health assessment policy requires that intending long term entrants to New Zealand are not likely to be a risk to public health; are not likely to be a burden on the health services and are fit for their purpose of entry," said the Ministers.

"However there are no policy guidelines in place to help in assessing the likely burden on health services.

"Australia currently has a mandatory HIV test for all applicants for residence over 15 and it also applies a monetary test to determine whether potential long-term entrants would be a burden on the health services," they said.

Cabinet agreed to maintain the current policy of not requiring medical assessments for applicants for short term entry (less than two years) to New Zealand. However, it has directed immigration and health officials to investigate whether further steps need to be taken in relation to the control of tuberculosis and report back by the end of April 2000.


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