New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel with the Australian state of Victoria will be paused while the source of infection of the five cases announced in Melbourne in the last two days is investigated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.
Victoria has put in place restrictions from tonight, limiting the size of gatherings and requiring the use of face coverings indoors, following confirmation of a fifth locally-acquired case of COVID-19.
The pause will come into force from 7.59pm NZT and be in place for 72 hours initially. As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review.
“While the case announced today is not unexpected as a contact of a case announced yesterday, New Zealand officials have assessed that the most cautious option is to pause the travel bubble with Victoria as there are still several unknowns with the outbreak,” Minister Hipkins said.
“The Government understands the disruption this will temporarily cause affected passengers. It was a close call but the correct one given the current unknowns. The decision follows the travel bubble framework.”
Whole genome sequencing has identified that the cases reported yesterday are closely linked to a previous case identified in the community in Wollert on 11 May after leaving managed isolation in South Australia.
“An epidemiological link has yet to be determined between these cases and there is currently no known link between people in the current outbreak and any of the exposure sites from Wollert,” the Minister said.
“Information about locations of interest are provided on the Victoria Health website and are being updated regularly.”
In Australia, the 14-day travel restrictions for those who have visited locations of interest means they are ineligible to travel to New Zealand within 14 days from exposure – even with a negative COVID-19 test.
Anyone in New Zealand who has been at a location of interest in Melbourne at the specified time should contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 as soon as possible for advice on isolating and testing.
Anyone who has visited Melbourne since 11 May should monitor for symptoms and seek advice from Healthline if any symptoms develop.
A Section 70 notice has been issued under the Health Act with a number of requirements for any person who attended a location of interest.
More information is available on the Ministry of Health website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/covid-19-epidemic-notice-and-orders