Contact tracers in New Zealand are chasing up to 6000 travellers who have arrived from New South Wales over the past six days, after two mystery Covid-19 community cases emerged in Sydney this week.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday announced the trans-Tasman bubble with the state was being paused for 48 hours from midnight.
It comes after NSW announced new restrictions for the next three days after a man from Sydney on Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19, then his wife tested positive yesterday. Both cases have been linked to an overseas traveller in managed isolation, but how they became infected remains unknown.
Locations of interest have been shared on the NSW Government website, with more expected after the wife tested positive yesterday.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield this morning told Breakfast New Zealand has put an order in place requiring anyone at those locations of interest to isolate and get a test. The order is a New Zealand law.
He said contact tracers were emailing, and will follow up with emails and phone calls if necessary, for “somewhere between 5000 and 6000” travellers who arrived in New Zealand from the state in the past six days.
However, he reiterated the risk to Kiwis was still low.
“The likelihood that someone has travelled here in the last few days and been at one of the places of interest at the time of interest we think is very low but we’re just taking every precaution we can.”
However, Australia’s Nine News did broadcast vision of travellers fleeing Sydney to New Zealand after restrictions were put in place.
Bloomfield said those passengers didn’t get tested on arrival here, but he reiterated that by law anyone at locations of interest had to declare that.
He also assured officials would be keeping in close contact with recent arrivals.
Bloomfield said that relying on people to be honest about whether or not they’d been at a location of interest was “not totally foolproof, except all our response over the last year, both here and in Australia – and we’ve got very similar approaches to this – does rely on people being honest and it’s served us well to date”.