The billionaire co-founder of Google Larry Page was reportedly granted entry into New Zealand, despite the border being closed to non-residents.
Stuff reported that Page, who is the sixth-richest person in the world, visited the country after his child fell ill in Fiji and required hospital treatment in New Zealand.
New Zealand businessman and multi-millionaire Sir Stephen Tindall, who personally knows Page, said the billionaire has spent the Covid-19 pandemic in Fiji.
He told Stuff Page’s young child required treatment at Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital. It was not clear when the visit took place.
New Zealand has extremely strict border controls in place, requiring returnees to spend two weeks in a government-run Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facility (MIQ), in order to sustain its Covid-19 elimination strategy.
Entry is so tough that desperate New Zealand citizens are complaining of extreme difficulty in securing a place in managed isolation.
Entry is mostly reserved for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, but special approvals can be made if someone needs to travel for “critical purposes”, including health reasons. This category requires approval from the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board.
Immigration NZ said that Page met the requirements to be approved entry into New Zealand, despite not being a permanent resident. It did not reveal if Page is a New Zealand citizen.
Immigration NZ refused to comment further on the case, including the grounds for approving his entry and whether he was required to spend two weeks in managed isolation, citing privacy concerns.
The Ministry of Health also refused to comment on individual patients or whether Page required an urgent flight.
But it said anyone requesting a medevac flight by definition required immediate treatment, and therefore do not undergo managed isolation.
In the year ending June 30, 99 patients had been accepted for medical treatment via medevac flights, with most people living in the Pacific Islands, the ministry said.
The Guardian has requested comment from Page and Tindall.