New Zealand health officials are reviewing details of confirmed new COVID-19 cases in Sydney, Australia, which they say appear to have “a clear link to the border”.
The Ministry of Health says it expects further information will be provided on the NSW cases later today.
The Australian state is on alert after a man in his 60s, who works as a driver for international flight crews, tested positive along with a household contact.
Contact tracing and genomic sequencing is under way to determine the source of the infection.
Meanwhile, following a further public health assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak in greater Melbourne, New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel pause with Victoria has been extended to 11.59pm on Tuesday 22 June, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“It has been determined that the risk to public health in New Zealand continues to decrease and, at this time, public health officials consider it unlikely there is further widespread community transmission in the state. However, in line with our precautionary approach we consider this short extension to be prudent,” Mr Hipkins said.
He said New Zealand health officials will keep a close watch on developments in the state but at this point their advice is that we would expect to be in a position to lift the pause at the end of the five-day extension. This will be reviewed if the situation changes.
There are now 100 cases associated with the outbreak in the greater Melbourne area, spread across all clusters. The most recent report of a case being infectious in the community was 8 June, until the case announced this week of a nurse who may have worked a hospital shift while infectious.
“We acknowledge the pause in Quarantine Free Travel continues to inconvenience those who have had their travel plans disrupted,” said Mr Hipkins.
Everyone who is eligible can already return on ‘green flights’, meaning they are not required to isolate when they arrive home. However, they must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. A PCR test is required.
Anyone in New Zealand who visited a location of interest at the specified time in Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland is unable to travel and remains covered by a Section 70 notice, which has been issued under the Health Act.
More information is available on the Ministry of Health website here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/covid-19-epidemic-notice-and-orders
In the meantime, these cases in Australia are an important reminder that we should remain vigilant and stick to the basics – use the NZ COVID-19 Tracer app, stay put if you are sick, and wear a mask on all flights and public transport, Chris Hipkins says.