The COVID-19 pandemic response showed that it is critical for Aotearoa New Zealand to be prepared for future public health threats, by restricting border entry and providing isolation and quarantine to limit disease spread. 

The need for Managed Isolation and Quarantine, or MIQ as it became known, was unprecedented and critical to the success of Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. It took an extraordinary effort to keep COVID-19 at the border, while managing the isolation and quarantine requirements of arrivals before they entered our communities.

The knowledge gained from this experience led to the creation on 1 July 2023 of the National Quarantine Capability (NQC) programme with responsibility for the ongoing isolation and quarantine capability of Aotearoa.

National Quarantine Capability replaces MIQ1.  At the same time it was formed, the responsibility for and management of future isolation and quarantine in Aotearoa passed from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to (Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand?) the health system.

National Quarantine Capability (NQC)

NQC has a dedicated team sitting across Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora that has been tasked with maintaining, testing, and evolving the current isolation and quarantine capability. The team is working to ensure that whānau are at the heart of the system, working to improve equity and health outcomes for those who access quarantine or isolation.

The COVID-19 pandemic response showed that it is critical for Aotearoa New Zealand to be prepared for future public health threats, by restricting border entry and providing isolation and quarantine to limit disease spread. 

The need for Managed Isolation and Quarantine, or MIQ as it became known, was unprecedented and critical to the success of Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. It took an extraordinary effort to keep COVID-19 at the border, while managing the isolation and quarantine requirements of arrivals before they entered our communities.

The knowledge gained from this experience led to the creation on 1 July 2023 of the National Quarantine Capability (NQC) programme with responsibility for the ongoing isolation and quarantine capability of Aotearoa.

National Quarantine Capability replaces MIQ1.  At the same time it was formed, the responsibility for and management of future isolation and quarantine in Aotearoa passed from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to (Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand?) the health system.

QIC Readiness Plan

As part of the transfer of the NQC from MBIE, the health system took up responsibility for the Quarantine and Isolation Capability (QIC) Readiness Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand.  

The QIC Readiness Plan captures insights from MIQ, which includes Te Ao Māori values, into policy, communications, and operations and delivery of services. The QIC Readiness Plan is a living document which provides a strong foundation and guide on how to activate quarantine and isolation in response to future public health threats.  

The QIC Plan is currently being updated and will be made available in early 2024.

Beyond the existing QIC Readiness Plan, the NQC programme is looking to develop a range of equitable quarantine and isolation options, using a person-centred approach, that is informed by both lived experience and expertise found within the health system and its partners. Some examples of this include the NQC being activated (or partially activated) for events other than a border closure, such as one or more of the following:

  • When the borders are still open, but quarantine is still required as a condition of entry into Aotearoa.
  • If a planeload of travellers as part of a pratique response.
  • For the management of a domestic case, contacts and/or outbreak response.
  • In circumstances where (at short notice) government requires accommodation facilities for another reason, for example, mass arrivals or in support of the alternative NCMC.

Future isolation and quarantine

It is important we learn from the past, so we can be better prepared for the future. The NQC team is currently taking the lessons identified from the COVID-19 response to conduct an ongoing review of our quarantine systems, to ensure that Aotearoa New Zealand will be able to stand-up a functioning, effective, equitable and scalable capability faster and better than we did in 2020.

Contact details

If you have any questions about the operational functions of isolation and quarantine, you can contact nqcreadiness@health.govt.nz

For further information about MIQ can be found in the following article Isolation and quarantine functions to move to health system on 1 July 2023 – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand