The Australian federal government has extended its suspension of the trans-Tasman travel bubble for a further 72 hours following the identification of New Zealand’s first community transmission case in two months.
While the government had originally delayed the decision until 2pm last Thursday, they called for more time to gather information from health officials after a case of the highly contagious South African strain was confirmed in New Zealand.
The infected 56-year-old woman had recently returned from Europe and tested negative twice during hotel quarantine. She reportedly visited more than 30 locations in the country before eventually testing positive to COVID-19. Two people quarantining in the same hotel have since tested positive for coronavirus. Kiwis local to these potential infection sites have flocked to get tested.
The suspension is intended to protect Australians by buying more time in which to better understand the circumstances in New Zealand. The government has also shared its concerns for another group of travellers.
Acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd told the ABC: “We’ve also been advised a small number of people who were in hotel quarantine in the [Auckland] Pullman Hotel at the same time as these other cases have since travelled to Australia on ‘green zone’ flights before the pause was introduced on Monday afternoon.”
Two of these travellers arrived in Queensland, while 12 landed in Sydney.
Prof Kidd assured the public that the government was aware of and responding to this potential threat. “All these people are being followed up by the health authorities in the state where they land,” he said.
He urged anyone who has travelled from New Zealand to Australia since 9 January to get tested for coronavirus.
How closely are you following the trans-Tasman bubble updates? Are you anticipating travelling across the ditch this year? What outcomes are you hoping for?
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