Covid-19: Trans-Tasman bubble pause with NSW not needed, Australian expert

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sat, 8 May 2021, 10:54AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Covid-19: Trans-Tasman bubble pause with NSW not needed, Australian expert

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sat, 8 May 2021, 10:54AM

By RNZ

It is time to fire back up the transtasman bubble with New South Wales, according to an infectious disease specialist who says he would not have shut it down in the first place.

The New Zealand Government paused quarantine-free travel with the state until midnight tonight, pending more information after a Sydney man in his 50s and his wife tested positive for Covid-19 in the community.

Health officials are due to make an announcement about the travel freeze later today.

Genome testing showed the Sydney case was a similar strain to a person who was in quarantine after returning to Australia via the US, but authorities believe there could be other cases in the chain of infection.

However, Professor Peter Collignon from Australian National University said the risk of transmission between New South Wales and New Zealand was very low.

"With a population of about 5 million, there can't be that many people out in the community at the moment that have got it. Let's say worst case scenario, I'd assume there's four or five. It still means any one individual has less than a one in a million chance of having the virus at this point of time," he said.

"There must be a very low risk of anybody being in Sydney going back to New Zealand or anywhere else, of actually carrying the virus ... to put this in perspective, there's been people coming from overseas often, they've had a 1 or 2 per cent chance of carrying the virus if they come back from the US or Europe for instance and slightly higher at the moment from India."

He said authorities and the community would need to eventually have a discussion on what level of risk was worth taking.

"So at some stage, we're going to have to work out the level of risk we're willing to take. The more people are vaccinated, the more risk we can afford to take, because even if it does escape, there'll be less consequences, particularly to people over the age of 70, who are most of the people that died."

Collignon said considering the current risk level, he would not have closed travel with New South Wales over the new community cases.