New Zealand authorities have been criticised for failing to ask about what’s considered to be a key coronavirus symptom on the country’s new overseas arrival cards.

A new arrivals card was introduced in New Zealand in March as the country ramped up efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

The card prompts passengers arriving from overseas to declare whether they have experienced a number of common coronavirus symptoms in the past 14 days, including fever, cough and breathing difficulties.

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New Zealand National MP Shane Reti said the card failed to mention a critical symptom half of all Kiwi virus patients have experienced – a sore throat.

“Turns out that New Zealanders haven’t had difficulty breathing as one of the main symptoms, they’ve had a sore throat,” Mr Reti said, according to RNZ.

“Fifty per cent of New Zealanders have had a sore throat. So really, a sore throat should have been on the new arrival card and we’ve missed that boat.

“That concerns me for the people who have come into New Zealand and been screened in the wrong way.”

He said potentially “tens of thousands” of people had been screened “with the wrong questions”.

Auckland University professor of medicine Des Gorman told RNZ the card was “flawed”.

“Difficulty breathing is a lot less common than a sore throat,” Dr Gorman said.

“I mean, if you’re going to retain it, that’s fine, but a sore throat certainly needs to be there … sore throat presents in about half of cases.”

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said the cards focused on symptoms which “most obviously” helped to identify COVID-19 but the list would be reviewed at the next reprint of the cards.

The ministry told RNZ face-to-face assessments were being out with returned travellers who were asked if they had a “cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, any cold or flu type symptom, or loss of sense of smell” in the past fortnight.

Australia’s Department of Health identifies sore throat as one of the key symptoms of COVID-19, along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

As in Australia, all people arriving in New Zealand from overseas have to go straight into quarantine for 14 days.

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