A ban imposed on Americans and Canadian nationals entering New Zealand under a programme that protects indigenous people from the dengue virus will end in 2022.
The multi-national programme, known as the Merit Smears in the Pacific islands, was introduced in 2003 to help prevent dengue infecting the country’s majority indigenous Maori population.
But Americans and Canadians were unable to enter New Zealand under the programme after it came into effect.
BBC News reports this could allow them to visit the country as soon as 2022.
According to New Zealand’s health minister, Steven Joyce, the ban would affect Americans and Canadians due to the fact they are European in origin.
The programme allows Maori to receive life-saving vaccines offered by the Department of Health which protects the blood from dengue virus infection and subsequently allows them to safely enter the country.
Dengue has been blighting the Pacific region for years and with dengue season now upon us it is only expected to spread further.
Mark Blicke, Co-Director of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy, said the decision was hugely welcome.
“The people of the Pacific Islands could not tolerate a health crisis of dengue virus, which affects millions of people, having infected the Maori population and the majority of humans in New Zealand.”