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'No need to close trans-Tasman bubble' - Shaun Hendy

A Covid-19 modelling expert says there's no need to close the trans-Tasman bubble, but thinks New South Wales needs to impose more restrictions to deal with its community spread of Covid-19.

Shaun Hendy. Source: Supplied via RNZ.

A decision will be made this afternoon about whether the entire Trans-Tasman travel bubble will be closed.

Cabinet convened a special virtual meeting yesterday to discuss the pause. This comes as more than half of Australia is under lockdown due to multiple outbreaks of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

The travel bubble is currently paused for New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

New South Wales is struggling to control its outbreak of the Delta variant, and yesterday recorded its highest daily number of cases at 124. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she expected to see cases increase further.

Professor Shaun Hendy says he doesn't think travel with Australia needs to stop completely, as long as there are tight internal restrictions between its states.

Trans-Tasman travel bubble update set for 1.30pm today

However, he says New South Wales will not get on top of the virus under its current lockdown regime.

"They've obviously tightened the restrictions in New South Wales in the last week, but I think they will probably need to tighten further," he told Morning Report.

"It's still not looking restrictive enough for me in New South Wales. The Delta variant is very hard to contain once it's out in the community.

"Although the situation in New South Wales is serious and we have seen spread to south Australia and Victoria, at the moment there are quiet strong travel restrictions in Australia itself. So providing the government feels confident that it can screen returning travellers who might have been in transit through Victoria for example, or in New South Wales during their time in Australia then I don't think it's necessary to restrict travel from other states at this stage.

Record 124 new local Covid cases in NSW

Hendy said New Zealanders would still need to be circumspect about travel and the risk of being stranded in Australia.

"I'd still be advising people at to travel to Australia unless it's absolutely essential at the moment. The chances of the bubble experiencing further disruptions are very high and that could leave people stuck in Australia for some time."

New Zealand would need to look at tightening its alert levels if the Delta variant reached the community, Hendy said.

"I'd want the government here to react as swiftly as possible if we had a case of Delta here. It is difficult to go to level 4 at the drop of a hat, so it might to necessary to go to level 3, but then very swiftly bring in level 4 requirements. That's the sort of restrictions I think we would need to contain Delta."

"It's certainly time to be looking at our alert-level restrictions and thinking about where they can be tightened."

rnz.co.nz