NEWCASTLE public health specialist Kypros Kypri has praised New Zealand's COVID border control protocols after he and his family were let into the country to visit a teenage son critically ill in hospital.
Professor Kypri of the University of Newcastle's School of Medicine and Public Health spoke to the Newcastle Herald yesterday from Dunedin, where his 19-year-old son Luke is in intensive care in Dunedin Hospital after being diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening auto-immune condition.
Professor Kypri's wife Johanna and the children Stassi, Luke and Bonnie are dual Australian/NZ citizens.
IN THE NEWS:
The boys are at university in Dunedin and the rest of the family was allocated emergency seats to fly to New Zealand under its Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) program.
They arrived in Auckland on December 30 and finished 10 days of quarantine on Sunday, when they flew to Christchurch on the South Island and then drove to Dunedin.
"It's been hard for us and hard for him being separated," Professor Kypri said.
"There's 500,000 Kiwis around the world, they're great travellers, and so there's a ballot for people wanting to get home but the system worked in that we received an emergency allocation."
Professor Kypri has been working with the Hunter New England Local Health District public health team on COVID matters, and says New Zealand has worked hard to keep COVID at bay.
The family was allowed into hospital to see Luke, which he doubts would have been the case had he fallen ill in Newcastle.
"I don't think we'd have been allowed into the John Hunter had he been here," Professor Kypri said yesterday.
Professor Kypri moved to New Zealand early in his academic career.
He married Johana there and they came to Newcastle with the two boys in 2004 after he was appointed to Newcastle University.
His research into alcohol and violence was instrumental in the NSW government's adoption of the "Newcastle solution" to reduce night-time violence in the city.
KIWI COVID COMBAT:
Professor Kypri said Luke had been feeling a bit below par before his condition suddenly deteriorated in late December and he was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with a rare auto-immune condition, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).
He said HLH affected about one person in a million every year, and by chance Dunedin Hospital had just treated another case when Luke arrived.
"He's been in a critical condition, it's unsure what the future holds, but we're parents - we'll do whatever we have to for our boy. "
At last count, New Zealand had registered 14,848 cases and 52 COVID-related deaths.
The government's coronavirus statistics show 93 cases reported on Wednesday with 1062 active cases over the past 21 days.
Of these 677 were in the community and 385 at the border.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: