Trans-tasman bubble pause extended for 7 days after Victoria outbreak

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 10 Jun 2021, 5:50PM
Chris Hipkins says the government is taking a "precautionary approach". (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
Chris Hipkins says the government is taking a "precautionary approach". (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Trans-tasman bubble pause extended for 7 days after Victoria outbreak

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 10 Jun 2021, 5:50PM

The Government has extended the pause on the trans-Tasman bubble with Victoria, which will now continue for a further seven days.

"While the overall risk to New Zealand is low, today's advice from New Zealand public health officials is that the travel pause should continue," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

"The Government is taking a precautionary approach in continuing the pause, which will be reviewed again next Wednesday."

There are now 93 cases associated with the outbreak in greater Melbourne, spread over four clusters. Contact tracing efforts have identified more than 15,000 close contacts.

While the cases in the greater Melbourne outbreak are genomically-linked to cases arriving from overseas, there are at least three cases where it remains unclear how they caught the virus.

New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, people with humanitarian exemptions and critical workers will still be able to take green zone flights to New Zealand from Melbourne - but they will need to have a negative pre-departure test within three days of departure.

They will not need to isolate or be tested once they land in New Zealand.

Hipkins said quarantine-free travel for Queensland and New South Wales will continue because the risk from two new positive cases in Queensland has been deemed to be low.

Anyone who was in the New South Wales towns of Dubbo, Forbes, Gillenbah or Moree between June 1-5, or in Queensland in Toowoomba, Caloundra, Buddina and Baringa between June 5-8 should check the Queensland and New South Wales state health websites to determine whether they were at any locations of interest.

Anyone at these locations of interest at the specified times should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453, get tested and self-isolate until they return a negative result.

Anyone who was at a location of interest at the specified times also cannot not travel to New Zealand within 14 days of the exposure event.

Queensland on high alert

It comes after Queensland today confirmed two Covid-19 cases after it was revealed a Melbourne couple left lockdown and travelled on a road trip across two other states.

One of the cases, a 44-year-old woman who travelled from Melbourne, was confirmed yesterday, with her husband now also testing positive.

The woman and her husband left Victoria on June 1, four days after a statewide lockdown had come into force.

The pair travelled by car through regional NSW and into Queensland, stopping at multiple venues along the way.

The woman tested positive to Covid-19 at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast on June 8 after joining relatives there, though it is understood she had been experiencing symptoms since at least June 3.

The Queensland case numbers came shortly after Victorian authorities revealed four new Covid-19 infections had been recorded.

The cases came from the same household but the source of the infections is still not known.

As a result, Victorian authorities have made a minor change to the easing of restrictions across Melbourne tonight, with masks continuing to be required to be worn outdoors.

Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said it appeared both of the state's cases were towards the end of their infectious period.

However, she said it was still extremely important for residents to come forward and get tested.

Roaming couple questioned

Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino said health officials were conducting interviews with the couple and flagged the possibility that they may have been moving house, which would mean they wouldn't have broken lockdown the lockdown rules.

However, they may still have been in breach of Queensland's border rules if they didn't possess a valid exemption permit.

"Victoria was not able to speak to the couple yesterday for a case interview but we will do so today, and I think it is important to note that if they were relocating it is not a breach of directions here in Victoria but we just don't know," Merlino said.

It appears it was sheer luck that the infected Melbourne woman was caught, with the Courier Mail reporting the woman only got tested because her husband needed a negative covid test result for work purposes.

The Melbourne woman is being managed by Sunshine Coast University Hospital staff and her husband is also in hospital being monitored.

Meanwhile Melbourne residents are set to emerge from a tough two-week lockdown tonight, with Merlino announcing "significant steps" to easing restrictions on Wednesday.

From 11.59pm tonight Melbourne will be able to move to "most of the same settings" currently in place across the rest of the state, with regional Victoria also moving to further ease restrictions.

Melburnians will be restricted to a 25km travel limit, with the only reasons to travel further being for work, education, caregiving or getting vaccinated.

The ban on visitors to households will remain but outdoor gatherings will be increased to 10 people.

Masks will still be required in both outdoor and indoor settings, after Merlino announced the slight adjustment to the rules on Thursday.

Travel to regional Victoria is still banned.

-with news.com.au